BY A STAFF REPORTER
EUROPEAN CATHOLICS who initiated petitions to reform the Church, and who have requested an audience with the Pope, have reacted angrily after being told to speak to their bishops instead.
"They don't have the courage to face facts," said Christian Weisner, head of the group that circulated the petition in Germany. "They are hoping these issues will simply go away. We have to take a deep breath and push ahead to show them that we are not about to give up."
The petition organisers, who caused controversy with their protests last year in Austria, Germany and northern Italy, wrote to Pope John Paul on 25 January, asking for the audience. Three weeks later they received a reply from Archbishop Donato Squicciarini, papal nuncio to Austria, who expressed sympathy but suggested they take the issue up with their bishops.
However, in their letter to the Pope, the petitioners had already claimed that the bishops have failed to report their concerns to him with "sufficient decisiveness".
Now, undeterred by the papal knock-back, Christian Weisner hopes to arrange a meeting during the Holy Father's visit to Germany in June.
"If we don't manage to do that," he said, "we will have to find some other way to attract his attention."