Vatican Note on Cardinal Schönborn's Papal Audience

"Wished to Clarify the Exact Sense of His Recent Statements"

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the communiqué issued today by the Vatican press office after Benedict XVI received in audience Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, Austria, to discuss statements made by the cardinal regarding his predecessor, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër, who resigned in 1995 amid allegations of sexual abuse.



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1) The Holy Father received in audience today Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna and president of the Austrian episcopal conference. He had requested to be able to inform the Supreme Pontiff personally on the present situation of the Church in Austria. In particular, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn wished to clarify the exact sense of his recent statements on some aspects of present ecclesiastical discipline, as well as certain evaluations of the attitude of the State Secretariat and in particular of the then Secretary of State of Pope John Paul II, of v.m., in regard to deceased Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër, archbishop of Vienna from 1986 to 1995.
 
2) Invited to the meeting subsequently were cardinals Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, and Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state.
 
In the second part of the audience, some widespread mistakes were clarified and resolved in part derived from some expressions of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, who expressed his displeasure over the interpretations made.
 
In particular:
 
a) It is reminded that in the Church, when it is a question of accusations against a cardinal, the competence belongs only to the Pope; other entities can have a consultative function, always with due respect for the persons.

b) The word "chiacchiericcio" has been interpreted erroneously as a lack of respect for the victims of sexual abuses, for whom Cardinal Sodano has the same sentiments of compassion and condemnation of the evil, as he has expressed in several interventions of the Holy Father. That word, pronounced in Benedict XVI's Easter address, was taken literally from the papal homily of Palm Sunday and referred to the "courage that does not let itself be intimidated by the gossip of prevailing opinions."
 
3) Recalling with great affection his pastoral visit to Austria, the Holy Father sends through Cardinal Christoph Schönborn his greeting and encouragement to the Church in Austria and its pastors, entrusting to the celestial protection of Mary, so venerated in Mariazell, the path of a renewed ecclesial communion.
 
[Translation by ZENIT]