The pope's message was clearly aimed at the Preachers' Initiative, a group launched by the Rev. Helmut Schuller in Austria that has urged the church to change its teachings on the ordination of women, clerical celibacy and divorce, The New York Times reported. Schuller, who formerly directed the Catholic charity Caritas in Austria, has written a "Call to Disobedience" that has gathered the signatures of 400 priests in Austria and others in the United States and Europe.
"We would like to believe that the authors of this summons are motivated by concern for the church, that they are convinced that the slow pace of institutions has to be overcome by drastic measures, in order to open up new paths and to bring the church up to date," the pope said. "But is disobedience really a way to do this?"
Benedict instead urged priests to look to the saints as models for a "radicalism of obedience."
As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the pope headed the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was perceived as the enforcer of doctrinal orthodoxy.