Click here to see pictures of the Cardinal's visit.
During his six-day visit to the United States, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, Austria, toured Priests for Life’s Staten Island headquarters on Tuesday and left with a better understanding of the scope and mission of the international, pro-life ministry.
“We look with a certain envy to your country, where for so many years the life issue has been so central,” the Cardinal said. By contrast, in Europe “very few people believe there can be a real change.”
Noting that it’s difficult even for bishops to speak out against abortion “if you have not the people of God behind you,” he congratulated Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, the pastoral associates and the staff for not only working to assist priests in their pro-life work but also for “helping the laity assume their responsibility.”
Cardinal Schönborn was particularly interested to learn that men are participating in the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and seeking healing for themselves through Rachel’s Vineyard retreats.
“The concept of lost fatherhood is the central drama of our time,” the Cardinal said.
Father Pavone said the cardinal, a theologian, has “a deep understanding of the Catholic faith and Christian thinking, and I think the concept of lost fatherhood ties together a lot of things for him.”
The Cardinal is a prolific author who is perhaps best known for his work as director of the commission that published “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” in 1994. One of the youngest cardinals to have voted in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Schönborn is himself considered “papabili” -- someone who could one day become pope.
He began his visit to the United States on Jan. 30 in Kansas City, Mo., where he toured church institutions, spoke at Benedictine College and met with priests from Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
After visiting Priests for Life – where he also taped a segment of “Defending Life” with Father Frank for EWTN – Cardinal Schönborn traveled to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, where he celebrated Mass and spoke at a dinner for his International Theological Institute in Vienna. Father Pavone attended the mass and dinner with Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, and Dr. Theresa and Kevin Burke of Rachel’s Vineyard.
Before he leaves for home, Cardinal Schönborn will speak at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., celebrate Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral there and meet with State Department representatives about the plight of Iraqi Christians.
“Do not forget us in Europe,” Cardinal Schönborn implored the Priests for Life staff as he blessed them. “We need encouragement because the pro-life movement is much too weak still. We have to learn from you.”
The cardinal spent more than two hours at Priests for Life, and left with a promise from Father Pavone that he will make time in his schedule to visit the International Theological Institute and address the priests in Vienna.