I know I have been doing more serious stuff lately. I regret it in as much as I truly enjoy the silly. But there are serious things going on these days and as I am very interested in these happenings, it is difficult for me not to write about them.

Yesterday I wrote a post about the how crucial might be this moment for the papacy of Benedict XVI. I suggested that with the withdrawal of Fr. Wagner as an Episcopal candidate in Linz Austria, that the enemies of the Pope would sense blood in the water.

It did not take long for that to prove out. The Bishops conference of Austria, shamefully issued the following statement. From Rorate Caeli.

“4. There were problems of communication also in the recent appointment of an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Linz. The bishops are aware that Fr Wagner asked the Pope to withdraw the appointment. The theme of Episcopal appointments is therefore important because since the mid-eighties in Austria it has been associated with a number of problems. For many, the controversy over episcopal appointments led to a painful conflict, and they have triggered splits in the church,. It is precisely in this area that sensitivity is most appropriate. There is no question that the Pope is free to appoint bishops. The bishops do not want to go back in time where – as in 1918 – the Emperor alone chose the bishops. Even a ‘popular choice’ of the bishops would divide the church into parties and conflicts would be inevitable. We bishops are convinced that the procedure provided for in canon law for the selection and the examination of candidates has proved its worth, if this procedure is really followed. Therefore, before the Holy Father takes the final decision, reliable and thoroughly tested basic information must be provided on which he can rely. In Austria in the next few years a number of bishops are to be appointed. The faithful are legitimately concerned that the process of candidate search, examination of the proposals and the final decisions should be carefully undertaken and with pastoral sensitivity are possible. This can ensure that bishops are appointed who are not ‘against’ but ‘for’ a local church. We bishops will make every possible effort to support the forthcoming episcopal appointments in the sense of monitoring these procedures in close cooperation with the relevant Vatican offices.”
“Trusting in God’s help, we will overcome the crisis of recent weeks.” [Adapted according to original text]

For those unaccustomed to such language, this is diplomat speak for do what we say or face open revolt. The Bishops of Austria are demanding veto power over this appointment and future appointments to the Episcopacy in Austria. Failure to comply will result in painful conflict and splits in the Church.

This is about as tough as language gets in in defiance of the Pope. These are very serious times. New Catholic of Rorate Caeli opines.

There was no true “crisis”, but open revolt against the Pope, inflamed and supported by the shameless Bishops of Austria, first among them the Cardinal-Archbishop of Vienna. If the Pope does not intervene urgently in this case, if a PUBLIC response is not given – since the Bishops of Austria chose to make the matter public – the perception of the authority of the Pope in Europe is finished. The anti-Roman rebellion of the Austrian Bishops is intolerable.

Amen. A clear and decisive response to this open rebellion is required of the Pope at this juncture. Failure to do so may very well telegraph critical weakness to other contumacious Episcopal conferences. The result could be catastrophic.

Some commenters and emailers yesterday suggested I was exaggerating the import of the situation in Austria. I respectfully ask them and everyone else to consider what failure to respond to such open rebellion might mean for the immediate future of the Church.

I agree with Rorate Caeli. Failure at this juncture will mean ” the perception of the authority of the Pope in Europe is finished.”

This must not stand.