Scandal or Provocation


Now and then the media give us a surprise informing about depravities in the ecclesiastical environment. Recently a case of pornography in one of the Austrian seminaries has been in focus. One should admit that immoral behaviour of some clergymen is very painful to the Church, bishops, priests as well as the faithful. However, we should not forget that the Church is a large community, with over one billion people. If there are some events within this community they should be seen in the context of a massive number of people who are weak. We are only human beings, after all. There are many Catholics in Poland. We must be ashamed of the way some Catholics behave. It is sad that not every Catholic is a good Catholic. So are Church institutions.
Bishop Kurt Krenn is the bishop in charge of the diocese in St. Pölten, Austria, where the seminary sex scandal erupted. He is a very good bishop, friendly towards the Holy Father. However, I remember that when I used to visit Germany a few years ago some German liberals 'gnashed their teeth' seeing Bishop Krenn. I saw their discontentment and heard their unfriendly statements. However, one should know there is an enormous diversification of bishops and priests in some countries. Some lean towards liberalism, others are more conservative. As far as I can remember Bishop Krenn belonged to the second group and that's why I was very surprised when I read reports on this scandalous affair in the media.
The Bishop of St. Pölten has been accused of disobeying some rules, which are obligatory in the Catholic Church in Austria and of accepting without selection all those who wanted to join the seminary. It is hard to evaluate what the situation really looked like. Reading the news we only know that the rector of the seminary in question dismissed two seminarians on the pretext of their mental disturbances. One of them gave an interview on TV in which he brought concrete accusations against the seminary. If this is in fact the background of the sex scandal we should think whether a man who might be mentally ill can decide in such a touchy matter and whether his opinion is objective. I personally tend to assume that it might be some deliberate provocation. Since Bishop Krenn has been known for his eagerness and obedience to the Holy Father and the stand of the Holy See on homosexuality is very definite and unequivocal.
We should wait for complete explanation of that matter because not everything has been checked and proved. The scandal might be only based on suspicions. It is very easy to cause such a scandal, especially when the media, fundamentally hostile to the Church, would like to call the Church every name under the sun. The news about pornography in a seminary becomes a real fuel. Our media also pick up such a subject eagerly since this scandalous affair suits all those who constantly fight against the Church. We should be aware of this and wait with peace until this big fuss is over. We must also remember that where sin and scandal occur there should be repentance as well. The Church uses penance in such a case. All who commit sins do penance since it is according to the very will of God. Therefore, we must be humble, accept painful facts and repent when they are objective. We must correct our own errors and come to Christ who forgives our sins and weaknesses.
Let us also notice how much the Church strives for morality of the world; how many efforts she makes so that man becomes better, so that man do not fall nor sin. She rejects sin and evil and tries to overcome her weaknesses. The Church keeps balance especially in those environments where people are exposed to sin and deviations. Let us notice how often the media make a fool of someone who commits some kind of sin, e.g. a sin of homosexuality and at the same time the media zealously defend homosexual circles. Whereas the Church takes a firm stand on natural ways of life, including sexual life. In other words, she is in favour of what is in accord with God's law and the natural law. For such is the teaching of the Church. On the other hand, the fact that there are sometimes various deviations and sins in the environment of the Church inclines her to repent and not to change her stand on this issue. Here we can see a profound inconsistency of the media and public opinion. Therefore, one should treat the opinions of anti-Church media with due deliberation and caution, and at the same time, wait for authentic judgements and rulings on this case. I think the situation in St. Pölten in Austria will be clarified although some would prefer to see Bishop Krenn compromised. I also hope that the Bishops Conference in Austria will take a proper stand on this issue and will ensure the morality of the Austrian Church meet the highest standards. For where sin appears it must be unambiguously rejected and repented. And above all one should strive after what is good, honest and clean in God's eyes. And we ourselves take such a stand.

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: