Pope Benedict XVI issued a blistering denunciation of dissident priests on Holy Thursday at St. Peter's Basilica, according to the Associated Press.
Benedict said he would not tolerate disobedience, in direct response to a group of Austrian priests who launched the Pfarrer Initiative, a call to disobedience aimed at abolishing priestly celibacy and opening up the clergy to women. He conceded that the group acted out of concern for the church.
"But is disobedience really a way to do this? Do we sense here anything of that configuration to Christ which is the recondition for true renewal, or do we merely sense a desperate push to do something to change the Church in accordance with one's own preferences and ideas," he said, according to Voice of America.
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Benedict said the Austrian group's mission challenged "definitive decisions of the Church's magisterium (teaching authority) such as the question of women's ordination," according to Reuters.
He restated the Church's position on female priests by saying that the ban was part of the Church's "divine constitution," according to a 1994 document by Pope John Paul II.
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According to the BBC, about 15 percent of Austria's 2,000 priests signed the initiative in June 2011, which called for "long-needed reforms" such as the "admission of women and married people to the priesthood."
Reuters noted that reformist Austrian Catholics have challenged the conservative policies of Benedict and his predecessor for decades, advocating for change that the Vatican refuses to make.
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