US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Ach Du meine Guete! Gay man approved for parish council in Austria

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Then again, it did require a personal meeting between the man, his same-sex partner, and the cardinal-archbishop of Vienna. But at least Christoph Schonborn confirmed the election of 26-year-old Florian Stangl as a member of the parish council in a town north of Vienna.

Actually, i thought that the news here should be: Gay man, 26, actually wants to be a member of the parish council. I can think of plenty of pastors who would give their eye-teeth for a 26-year-old council member (gay or straight).

Schonborn's gracious (if wordy) confirmation of Stangl's election points out what should now be obvious to all of us: "In [the candidates for parish council's] diversity they reflect the diversity of the life and faith journeys of today. Thus there are many parish councilors whose lifestyle does not in every way conform to the ideals of the Church. In view of the life-witness that each of them gives taken as a whole, and their commitment to the attempt to live a life of faith, the Church rejoices in their efforts." In other words gay men and women are part of the diversity of the church, and at least in Austria, the local church "rejoices" in their efforts to live the life of Catholic faith, even when it doesn't always conform to the norm of church teaching.

Then again, this seems a bit overblown to me as "news": I've known plenty of Catholic parishes where gay and lesbian Catholics serve on the parish council, finance council, and parish administration, despite the fact that recently some church musicians have lost their jobs because they got civilly married to their partners.

Stangl's election--along with the growing acceptance of same-sex couples and their families in the church in the U.S.--indeed shows that "the church"--and by that I mean the people of God as they are gathered in town in Austria--has judged that Stangl's way of life should not bar him from leadership in the church. Is that the "voice of the faithful" or the sensus fidei suggesting the need for new conversation about the place of lesbian and gay people in the church? You betcha.