Austria, The Catholic Church in

views updated


Because of its location along the Danube, Austria has long been considered at the crossroads of Europe. Also known as Österreich, the Republic of Austria is bordered on the south by the Alps, Italy and Slovenia, on the west by Switzerland and Liechtenstein, on the north by Germany and the Czech Republic, and on the east by Hungary and Slovakia. Located in a temperate climatic zone, Austria possesses a landscape that ranges from alpine peaks to river valleys; most of its settlement occurred at the foothills of the Alps and the Carpathian mountains. It is one of the most heavily wooded countries in Europe.

Modern Austria is a remnant of the Austro-Hungarian empire that was dissolved after World War I. From the Middle Ages onwards, its history was dominated by the house of Hapsburg. After World War I, the country suffered economic depression and political instability. In 1938, while occupied by German troops, the region became a province of the Third Reich and was known as Ostmark. Following World War II, it was occupied by Allied forces and divided into four zones. The modern Republic of Austria dates from Oct. 26, 1955 when the Allies agreed to leave Austria in exchange for a promise of perpetual neutrality. A federal state consisting of nine independent regions, Austria joined the European Union in 1995 and adopted the Euro monetary system in 1999.

The essay that follows is divided into four parts. Part one deals with the early history of Austria; part two covers the Church from 1500 to 1848; part three covers the history of Austria through World War II; and part four follows the Church into 2000.

Christianity to 1500

The Christianization of Austria was an irregular process that developed in three phases stretching over several centuries. Christian origins date from Roman times and produced several martyrs. St. Florian, who held an administrative post in the Danubian province of Noricum, hastened to Lauriacum (Lorch, near Enns), the capital of the province during Diocletian's persecution and there suffered a martyr's death in 304. St. severin, the apostle of Noricum, died at Favianis (Mautern, near Krems) on Jan. 8, 482, after working among the Roman population, which was suffering from the invasion of the Germanic Rugieri. Ecclesiastical organization developed early. Bishoprics existed at Lauriacum, Virunum (Zollfeld near Klagenfurt), Teurnia (St. Peter im Holz near Spittal on the Drau) and Aguntum (near Lienz in eastern Tyrol). The bishopric established in Sabiona (Säben, in southern Tyrol) during the 6th century was a forerunner of the medieval bishopric of Brixen (Bressanone); St. ingenuin was bishop there c. 590.

The second period of Christianization coincides with the conversion of Bavarians during the 6th century. St. columban and his disciples Saints gall and eustace were active among the Alamannians in Bregenz c. 600. A century later St. rupert founded the bishopric of Salzburg. A descendant of Rhenish-Franconian counts related to the Carolingians, Rupert came to Bavaria as part of the missionary efforts of the Frankish Empire in the early 8th century. He founded the Abbey of St. peter, the oldest monastery still existing in Austria, as well as the Abbey of nonnberg, where he installed his niece as abbess. When St. boniface organized the Church in Bavaria, Salzburg became a diocese, evolving into the principle see in Bavaria with St. virgilius as bishop. A prominent exemplar of Irish-Scottish monasticism on the Continent, Virgilius consecrated the cathedral of St. Rupert in 774. The monastery of Maria Saal was founded to serve the mission to the Slavonians. Among the other new foundations were the monasteries of Mondsee (748), kremsmÜnster (777) and the collegiate monastery of Innichen, San Candido, (769).

The third period of Christianization began with charlemagne's establishment of an empire and his expansion eastward. After the fall of Duke Tassilo III, Bishop Arno became Charlemagne's trusted adviser for ecclesiastical matters in the east. At the king's command he received the pallium from Pope Leo III (798), and Salzburg became the head of the ecclesiastical province of Bavaria until its secularization (1803). Gaining the area between the Drau, Raab and Danube Rivers after the defeat of the Avatars, Salzburg, followed by Passau and Regensburg, extended its mission activity eastward to Moravia, where it encountered the apostles of the Slavs, Saints cyril and Methodius, who had come westward from Constantinople. In the early Carolingian period the monastery of St. florian was established in Lorch; and

St. Pölten was established as a daughter-house of the Bavarian monastery of tegernsee.

Medieval Growth. The victory of otto i over the Magyars and the erection of a fortified frontier along the Danube made the Church more secure against invasions from the east. The frontier district was entrusted in 976 to the counts of Babenberg; it was called Ostarrichi in 996. About that time Bishop pilgrim of passau (971991), whose name is immortalized in the Nibelungenlied, undertook a mission to the Hungarians that led to the conversion of Grand Duke Geza and to the baptism of his son St. stephen i. Pilgrim failed to secure metropolitan jurisdiction over Moravia and Hungary for the See of Passau, though he forged charters to support his claim that Passau should be independent of Salzburg, and his diocese became one of the largest in Germany. The vigorous missionary activity of the Austrian bishops was crowned by the consecration of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna by Bishop Reginbert, who died in 1147. The most eminent bishop of Passau was St. altmann (106591), a firm supporter of the popes during the investiture struggle. He founded St. Nikola in Passau as well as the Benedictine Abbey of gÖttweig (1094), and reformed the monasteries of St. Florian and St. Pölten. Conrad I (110647), a leading reform bishop, made 14 foundations of canons in his diocese and introduced their reforms into his own chapter.

Monastic Life. Benedictine foundations and reforms were characterized by the spirit of monastic renewal emanating from gorze and cluny. lambach abbey, established in 1056 by Adalbero of Würzburg on his family estate, was immediately affected by the Gorze reform. Next was Kremsmünster, where Bishop Altmann installed the monk Theodorich de Gorze as a reforming abbot. After that came melk, where in 1089 Abbot Sigibold organized a monastic community that was richly endowed by Margrave Leopold III and placed under papal protection in 1110. St. coloman, Austria's first patron saint, was interred at Melk in 1014. The cluniac reform came to Austria through the abbeys of St. blasien, Siegburg, near Cologne and hirsau in Swabia. In 1094 Bishop Udalrich of Passau brought some Benedictines to Göttweig from St. Blasien in the Black Forest. The main support for Hirsau reform in Austria was admont

Franz II (Francis II) (17681835), Emperor of Austria, last Holy Roman Emperor.

Abbey, built in 1074 on the property of Blessed hemma of Gurk (d. 1045) and peopled with monks from St. Peter. Under the reforming abbots Wolfhold (111537) and Gottfried (113765) it influenced most religious houses in Bavaria and Austria. During the 11th century the Benedictines established St. Lambrecht, St. Paul, Ossiach (before 1028) and Millstatt (c. 1070).

The Margrave St. Leopold III (10951136), patron saint of Austria, transformed a frontier district into a territorial duchy. He gave his residence of Klosterneuburg near Vienna to Canons Regular of St. Augustine. He also brought cistercians from morimond to heiligenkreuz, where his son otto, later bishop of Freising, had become a monk. From Heiligenkreuz, St. Bernard's monks went to zwettl (1138), Baumgartenberg (1142) and lilienfeld (1202). Cistercian monasteries also arose in viktring (Carinthia, 1142) and wilhering in Upper Austria (1146). The monasteries of the old orders, joined by the mendicant orders (dominicans in 1217 at Friesach, franciscans in 1230 in Vienna), established a firm structure lasting until the dissolution of religious houses by Emperor Joseph II. In the 14th century, the House of hapsburg favored the augustinians and carthusians.

Austria's frontier position prevented the creation of a regular bishopric. Unsuccessful attempts in this direction were later made by the dukes of Babenberg, the Bohemian King Premysl Ottokar and Duke Rudolph IV, the last-named a founder of the University of Vienna (1365) and of a collegiate chapter at St. Stephen's Cathedral. Emperor Frederic III established Vienna (1469) and Wiener Neustadt as bishoprics. Within the Diocese of Salzburg private bishoprics appeared at Gurk (1072), Seckau (1218) and Lavant (1225). Some of the prominent bishops of Brixen were St. albuin (9751005); Poppo, who became Pope damasus ii (1048); Reginbert, who, before 1138, brought praemonstratensians to Wilten and Benedictines to St. Georgenberg; and Hartmann (114064), who sent Augustinian canons from Klosterneuburg to Neustift. Together with the bishops of trent, the bishops of Brixen exercised sovereign rights in Tyrol until the local counts of Andechs-Meranien, Tyrol and Görz contested those rights.

1500 to 1848

The crises of the Protestant revolt and the energetic policies of Catholic reform led the Church in Austria into its Baroque age, when it displayed a distinctive piety in its devotional practices and its religious art forms. In the subsequent period of josephinism it experienced the good and evil effects of the enlightenment, surrendering, under force, much of its internal government to state controls.

Reformation and Counter Reformation. Rivalry for power between the Hapsburg rulers and their subject nobles was a prominent factor in the rise of Protestantism within Austria. Thus the growth of Protestantism was promoted by the nobles, who as lords of their estates could encroach upon the administration of parishes, confiscate Church property and replace Catholic pastors with Evangelical preachers. The towns and marketplaces were influenced by the example of the nobles, so that at the time of its widest spread, the reformation would claim three-quarters of the Austrian population. The alliance between the nobles and lutheranism was cemented by the continuing threat of Turkish invasion. The cost of protecting the frontier against Turkish forces could not be met by the contributions of the churches and monasteries alone. The emperor relied upon taxes within the states of the empire that were often exchanged for religious concessions. Furthermore, the condition of the clergy did not provide a strong weapon of defense against the spread of Protestantism and spiritual indifference and moral breakdown continued to increase. The Bishop of Salzburg, Cardinal Matthäus lang (151940), was more successful than others at fighting the new faith, despite his unclerical private life. As sovereign and bishop, he was able to prevent local peasant uprisings and thus hinder the victory of Lutheranism. Protestantism was likewise

aided by the favor of Maximilian II (156476), who throughout his reign remained in sympathy with creedal innovation and allowed his lords to accept the Confession of augsburg, until finally, for dynastic reasons, he withstood the power of the Protestant states. His son Rudolph II (15761612) pursued a policy of Catholic support.

Of particular importance in withstanding Lutheranism in Austria were the jesuits, who were invited by King Ferdinand I (emperor 155664). Peter canisius arrived in Vienna in 1552, where he taught theology in the newly founded Jesuit college, preached in the cathedral of St. Stephen and administered to many of the abandoned parishes of Lower Austria. Other Jesuits lectured at the universities, served as confessors and advisers of Hapsburg princes and founded colleges and spiritual gymnasia at Innsbruck (1562), Graz (1573), Hall, Leoben, Linz, Klagenfurt, Krems, Judenburg and Steyr. They were joined by the Capuchins c. 1600. St. lawrence of brindisi served as an army chaplain with the imperial troops in Hungary and founded Capuchin convents in Vienna and Graz.

The year 1580 marked the beginning of substantial Catholic recovery in Vienna and Lower Austria. Archduke Ernest governed Upper and Lower Austria for his brother Emperor Rudolph II, while the latter resided in Prague. Ernest was aided by the gifted Cardinal Melchior klesl, who had been converted from Protestantism by the Jesuit court chaplain George Scherer, and assumed the role of leader of the counter reformation. He became the provost of St. Stephen's Cathedral and chancellor of the University of Vienna (1579), councilor of the bishop of Passau in Lower Austria (1580), imperial councilor of Rudolph II (1585), court chaplain and administrator of the Diocese of Wiener Neustadt (1588) and bishop of Vienna (1598). Melchior's diplomatic skill and firmly rooted Catholicism prepared him to confront the political and religious problems of the period. With much personal risk he won back the cities of Baden, Krems and Stein and restored organization to the dioceses under his control.

In Styria and Carinthia the champion of reform was Archduke Charles, who was aided in his reform schemes by the capable bishops Martin Brenner of Seckau and George Stobäus of Lavant. In the Tyrol and neighboring territories, not so touched by Evangelicalism, Archduke Ferdinand and his successor, Archduke Maximilian, enacted comprehensive policies of reform. Maximilian encouraged

the regular visitations of parishes enacted by the reform synod of 1603, built a school for Jesuits at Innsbruck, established one Capuchin convent at Meran (1616) and assisted in founding another at Neumarkt. The court provided good example by the conduct of its household and the foundation of a house at Hall for gentlewomen interested in works of charity. Archduke Ferdinand's second wife, Anna Caterina de Medici, established convents for the Servites at Innsbruck and later became a Servite Tertiary under the name of Anna Juliana. From 1621 the Servites of Innsbruck spread over most of the crown lands of the Hapsburgs as far as the Rhine.

In the Archdiocese of Salzburg, Catholic restoration dates from the provincial synod of 1569, the work of the Dominican Feliciano ninguarda. His work was continued by archbishops Wolfdietrich of Reitenau (15871612), Mark Sittich of Hohenems (161219) and Paris, Count of Lodron (161953), who made Salzburg a cultural center. During the tenure of Archbishop Leopold Anton firmian (172444), Lutherans throughout Salzburg formed into a league. In 1731 he responded by publishing an edict demanding their recantation or emigration, and within ten years over 30,000 had immigrated to East Prussia, Hanover and the North American colony of Georgia.

The major source of Protestant strength in Austria was concentrated in the land along the Enns River, where the hard-fought struggle of the Protestant states for religious liberty took place. The principal combatants were the noble families of Jörger and Starhemberg, and especially George Erasmus of Tschernemble, who abandoned Lutheranism for Calvinism. The fraternal discord within the House of Hapsburg aided Protestantism and kept it a threat in Upper Austria. Burckhard Furtenbacher (d. 1598) at Lambach, Alexander of Lacu (d. 1612) at Wilhering, Anthony Wolfrat (d. 1639) at Kremsmünster and other prelates continued the work of Church renovation, while in Passau Archduke-bishops Leopold (15971626) and Leopold Wilhelm (162662) kept Catholicism strong. However, it was in ferdinand ii of Inner Austria (emperor 161937) that the Counter Reformation would have its most sincere and consistent leader. His Catholicism alienated the Bohemians, who rebelled in 1618 under Frederick V, ruler of the Palatinate and leader of the Protestant Union. Their forceful protests occasioned the Thirty Years' War, which terminated any compromise between the two. Ferdinand's forceful reign drove the nobles of Upper Austria into open revolt and into alliance with the Calvinists. The victory of the Catholic League in the battle of the White Mountain (Nov. 8, 1620) decided the fate of Protestantism in Austria by forcing the rebellious nobles to accept Catholicism or emigrate.

The Baroque Age. As a result of the Counter Reformation, Austria remained Catholic and the Hapsburgs became Catholicism's chief defenders in the Thirty Years' War and in the struggle against Western Christendom that ended with the defeat of the Turks before the walls of Vienna (Sept. 2, 1683). This heroic period in Austria's history was characterized by a strong religious zeal.

The 18th century was a time of enthusiasm for the renewed ancient faith, when Church and State joined in close union against the dangers of the Crescent. The baroque piety that florished (pietas Austriaca ) affected the devotion to the Trinity, the Eucharist and the veneration of the cross, Our Lady and the saints (see baroque culture). The Forty Hours devotion, general Communions, formation of pious confraternities and congregations, processions and pilgrimages became popular. Besides visiting places of pilgrimage such as the Sonntagsberg, near Waidhofen on Ybbs and Stadlpaura, near Lambach, Austrians covered the land with Calvaries, Ways of the Cross, columns in honor of the Trinity and Mary, wayside chapels and memorials, and statues of St. John of Nepomuc erected on bridges. They listened with pleasure to impressive musical services and to ornate baroque sermons, best represented by the Discalced Augustinian friar abraham of sancta clara (Ulrich Megerle) in Vienna.

Although Saints Joseph, Charles Borromeo, Teresa of Avila, Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Leopold and John of Nepomuc had a wide popularity, this was preeminently Mary's century. The Jesuits and various Marian congregations cultivated her devotion and sought her intercession in times of danger from plague or Turk. The numerous sanctuaries to the Mater dolorosa, recall these times of distressed Christianity. The oldest of the Marian shrines, at Mariazell, had attracted pilgrims since the late Middle Ages. There were sanctuaries also at Maria-Taferl and Maria-Dreieichen. In the environs of Vienna were erected the shrines of Mariabrunn, Maria-Lanzendorf and Maria-Enzersdorf; in Upper Austria, Pöstlingberg near Linz; in Styria, Maria-Trost, near Graz; in Salzburg, Maria-Plain and Maria-Kirchental; in Carinthia, Maria-Saal, Maria-Wörth and the baroque sanctuaries of Maria-Rain, Maria-Loretto (St. Andrä) and Maria-Luggau.

The revival of religious life and monastic discipline introduced a lustrous period of church ornamentation, in which a display of outward pomp was joined to the practice of the monastic ideal. The baroque church followed a pattern of an amply articulate façade, double spire and cupola; its uniform, spacious interior was well lighted, richly decorated with frescoes on ceiling and dome, and pompously ornamented. The most illustrious Austrian baroque architects were Johann Bernhard Fischer of Erlach (16561723), whose masterpiece is the Charles's Church in Vienna, begun on behalf of Emperor Charles VI; Lucas of Hildebrand (16681745), who created the Vienna Belvedere; and Jakob Prandtauer (16601726), who designed the church at Melk and the shrine on Sonntagsberg. Among the baroque architects of monasteries were Carlo Antonio Carlone (d. 1708), whose spirit breathes in the Upper Austrian monasteries of St. Florian, Garsten, Kremsmünster and Schlierbach; Donato Felice d'Allio (d. 1761), creator of the huge monastic building of Klosterneuburg; and Joseph Mungenast (d. 1741), who erected or completed several monasteries in Lower Austria.

Josephinism. While the Hapsburgs had rescued the Church from Protestantism and the threats of Turkish invasion, they gradually attempted to control ecclesiastical government. When the empire evolved into a centralized, utilitarian and materialistic state under the influence of enlightened absolutism, it no longer tolerated the Church as an equal, much less as a superior partner. As a result it took measures to subordinate the Church and fit it into its own apparatus of jurisdiction. During the reign of maria theresa (174080), Prince Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz took the preliminary steps toward the system of Church-State relations that came to be known as josephinism that brought hardship to the Church.

Josephinism represented a mixture of jansenism and the principles of the Enlightenment matured in the soil of Austrian Catholicism. Emperor joseph ii (176590) wanted to isolate the Austrian Church from Rome and subject it to his control. The Clerical Court Commission became the state office for Church affairs, generating as many as 6,000 Josephinist decrees in publicoecclesiasticis. Cutting deeply into the clerical sphere was the marriage decree (Jan. 17, 1783), which regarded marriage as a civil contract, the privileges and obligations of which were enforced entirely by civil law. In 1783 episcopal and monastic schools for training the clergy were abolished and replaced by general seminaries at Vienna, Louvain, Budapest, Pavia, Graz, Olmütz, Innsbruck, Freiburg, Pressburg (Bratislava) and Prague. By the Patent of Tolerance (Oct. 13, 1784) Lutherans and Calvinists were permitted the private practice of their religion. Of special concern was the dissolution of all monasteries and convents not engaged in pastoral, educational, or social activities. All revenue gained from the sale of such confiscated properties was used to create new parishes and to provide salaries for the clergy.

The emperor's attempt to align diocesan and political boundaries resulted in several changes. In 1785 the Diocese of Wiener Neustadt was incorporated into the Archdiocese of Vienna. The newly instituted Dioceses of St. Pöltin (S. Hippolyti) and Linz became suffragans to Vienna. The archbishopric of Salzburg gained as suffragans the enlarged Dioceses of Seckau-Graz and Gurk-Klagenfurt. The Upper Styrian Diocese of Leoben, with its seat at Göss, was united to Sechau. Several bishoprics were incorporated in the Diocese of Lavant, including the district of Völkermarkt in Carinthia, which was detached and given to Gurk in 1859; Lavant itself was transferred to the South Styrian bishopric of Marburg in 1859. The Vicariate of Feldkirch was established for the Diocese of Brixen. In addition, 600 new parishes were founded.

Josephinist Austria also commanded a firm state control of schools and educational methods. In 1774 there appeared the Theresan school regulations, the work of noted school reformer Abbot Johann Ignaz von felbiger of Sagan (Silesia). After the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773 and the departure of the Jesuits from the faculty of the University of Vienna, a new curriculum was organized by a disciple of febronianism, Abbot Franz Stephan von rautenstrauch of Braunau (Bohemia). Though viewed with suspicion because of its shortened courses in dogmatic theology, this curriculum put new stress upon Biblical and patristic study, Church history, pastoral theology and catechetics.

During the struggle to halt State encroachments upon ecclesiastical jurisdiction, Christoph Anton migazzi, Archbishop of Vienna (17571803), papal nuncios Giuseppe garampi and Giovanni Battista caprara worked to preserve the relationship between Emperor Joseph II and pius vi, who journeyed to Vienna in the spring of 1782 in a vain attempt at conciliation. Josephinism was a more stubborn problem than Lutheranism, which disappeared from Austria almost completely during the renewed religious enthusiasm of the baroque period. After the death of Joseph II, Josephinism declined slowly during the reign of Francis I (180435), who declared himself hereditary emperor of Austria and abdicated (1806) the crown of the Holy Roman Empire he had assumed as Francis II in 1792. Civil functionaries attempted to keep the Church in subordination and suppressed any movement toward clerical liberty. Meanwhile there developed a type of Josephinist cleric, who was a civil officer and spiritual bureaucrat, performing his service in the office, school and church. During the Napoleonic era and the ensuing Restoration period after the Congress of Vienna (181415), Josephinism weakened, much of its decline due to the revival of Catholic life in Austria brought about by the Redemptorist St. Clement hofbauer, the "Apostle of Vienna," and his disciples, Anton gÜnther, Johann Emmanuel Veith (17871876) and Cardinal Joseph Othmar von rauscher, Archbishop of Vienna (185375).

The Modern Church: 18481945

The Revolution of 1848 brought liberty to the Church but also abolished the privileged position Catholicism had enjoyed as the state religion. After long negotiations, a concordat in 1855 marked the culmination of the movement for renewal. The concordat benefited the Church even though it was infected with a new type of state absolutism that did not collapse until the Austrian military defeats of Solferino and Königgrätz. Contemporary liberalism opposed the concordat as a purely clerical solution of Church-State questions and even as an abdication of the State's power in the face of the Church. Count Antony Alexander of Auersperg, a liberal member of Parliament, called the concordat a printed canossa in which 19th-century Austria atoned in sackcloth and ashes for 18th-century Josephinism. Liberal opposition to the concordat assumed massive proportions after the constitution of February 1861 was promulgated. With the rise of parliamentary government in Austria new laws doomed the concordat. The Fundamental Law of the State (1867) set forth a strongly liberal code. The May Laws (1868) placed marriages and education completely under state control. In 1870 Austria abrogated the concordat by unilateral action on the pretext that vatican council i had essentially altered the nature of the papacy by its decrees on papal primacy and infallibility.

Under the leadership of Franz rudigier, Bishop of Linz and Joseph Fessler, Bishop of St. Pölten and general secretary at Vatican Council I, the Austrian hierarchy vigorously opposed the May Laws and sought to mobilize Catholics. Legislation in 1874the Law on Recognition of Churchesattempting to regulate Church-State relations almost caused a rupture with Rome and the excommunication of Emperor Francis Joseph. An open breach was averted only by the monarch's refusal to sign the legislation (see kulturkampf).

During this period the Austrian Church was forced for the first time to struggle alone and fight for its rights. Aware of the growing social issues, some Catholics initiated a movement for Christian social reform and a program of social legislation in 1870. The pioneer leader in these ventures was Baron Karl von Vogelsang. Unfortunately the Church at first did not grasp all the intimations of Austria's rapid industrialization and consequent labor problems. This failure was not catastrophic because the Catholic conservative movement, supported by the nobility, successfully advocated social legislation earlier than in other countries. However, the tardiness in adapting pastoral outlooks and methods to the needs of a changing environment resulted in large-scale defections of working-class Austrians from the Church. A Christian social movement under the political leadership of Dr. Karl Lueger (d. 1910) defeated the liberal regime in Vienna. Under Franz Schindler (d. 1922) and the conservative Prince Alois of Liechtenstein, the Christian Social party ultimately became the main support of the Catholic ideal in Austria. This was effected only after painful adjustments during which the conservatives, supported by the bishops, tried to secure a papal censure of the Christian Social movement. Fortunately the zealous Joseph Scheicher (d. 1924) won over the younger clergy. In 1907 the conservatives fused with the Christian Social party; their publications were combined in 1911.

Catholics tried to influence public life by organizing unions and associations. The Catholic Union, later styled the Severin Union, originated in 1848. St. Michael's Union, whose original purpose was the defense of the papacy, concerned itself more and more with bringing Catholic interests to public notice. By 1870 popular Catholic associations of patriotic character (Casinos) and associations of journeymen developed. Christian labor unions encountered great opposition from Socialists in the 1890s. Leopold Kunschak and Anton Orel were outstanding in their efforts to aid the young workers. The Catholic Popular Union originated in 1909 as a nonpolitical central organization of Austrian Catholics, embracing all Catholic organizations and unions in the various dioceses until it ended in 1938. To some extent it exercised the functions carried out after 1945 by catholic action.

The early 20th century witnessed the estrangement of a large portion of the educated classes, as well as the working classes from the Church. The los-von-rom cost the Church many members. On the other hand, there was a great increase in the number of vocations to religious congregations of women. The development of sodalities and the retreat movement strengthened Catholic life. Henry Abel, SJ, promoted an apostolate among men. Founded in 1892, the Leo-Gesellschaft, fostered Catholic scientific activities. The Catholic Associations of Academicians, especially the Austrian Cartel Unions, fought the spirit of nationalistic liberalism growing within universities and academies. The emergence of a more energetic clergy and the training of Catholic lay elite helped to reinvigorate Catholicism.

The Two World Wars. The end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire came following Austria's declaration of war on Serbia in response to the assassination of Hapsburg Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Following the acceleration of violence into World War I, the empire was dissolved and under the Treaty of St. Germain a greatly diminished Austria was reformed into a republic. While Catholics recalled the glories of the old monarchy more vividly than its shortcomings and grieved at its passing, they also focused on the catastrophic economic conditions in the postwar years. Once the monarchy was ended, hostile attention was refocused on the altar, and from 1918 to 1932 the Church became preoccupied with strong opposition from the socialist Social Democratic party. Searching for a new "secular arm" to support it, the Church discovered the Christian Social party, led by Ignaz seipel. Austrian socialism was Marxist: radical, atheistic and class-conscious. Social Democrats increased their strength by profiting from the disturbed conditions after 1918; their aim was the complete separation of Church and State and the abolition of public recognition of the Church's legal character. Viewing religion as an "opiate of the people," they attacked the Church as an enemy of the proletariat and an arm of capitalism. Defections from the Church reached 30,000 between 1927 and 1928 alone. Jewish publications also joined in the attack.

In this troubled period, Cardinal piffl of Vienna stood out as a resolute and far-sighted leader. Ignaz Seipel also proved himself a Christian diplomat of European stature as planner and statesman; heading the government, he saved Austria from economic collapse, revolution and Communist rule. Among the evidences of spiritual vitality during this era were the establishment of the Canisiuswerk für Priesterberufe, a society to promote priestly vocations and the charitable association known as Caritas Socialis. New Catholic newspapers included Wiener Kirchenblatt, started by Monsignor Mörzinger and the Reichspost, published by Frederic Funder. Canon Handlos and Monsignor Rudolf opened an institute for pastoral theology.

Christian Socialist Engelbert Dollfuss became chancellor in 1932 and went to work eradicating the Socialist power base. Dollfuss ratified a concordat with the Holy See and implemented social programs influenced by Catholic thinkers Karl Sonnenschein (d. 1929) and Seipel. He also attempted to end class conflicts by putting into effect the corporative state advocated by Pius XI in the encyclical quadragesimo anno. Despite opposition within his own party, Dollfuss gave Austria a new, corporative, constitution that bucked the traditional concept of parliamentary representation and gave much autonomy to the federated states. In order to effect his lofty aims amid growing agitation by advocates of National Socialism, Dollfuss used authoritarian methods. His murder at the hands of Nazi operatives on July 25, 1934 brought an abrupt end to his reforms. In 1938, the Nazis invaded Austria, bringing about the start of World War II.

Bibliography: e. tomek, Kirchengeschichte Österreichs, 3 v. (Innsbruck 193559). j. wodka, Kirche in Österreich (Vienna 1959). w. lorenz, Du bist doch in unserer Mitte. Wege der Kirche in Österreich (Vienna 1962). e. tomek and k. amon, Geschichte der Diözese Seckau, v.1 (Graz 1918); v. 3.1 (Graz 1960). m. heuwieser, Geschichte des Bistums Passau, v.1 (Passau 1939). j. wodka, Das Bistum St. Pölten (St. Pölten 1950). a. maier, Kirchengeschichte von Kärnten, 3 v. (Klagenfurt 195156). a. sparber, Kirchengeschichte Tirols (Innsbruck 1957). Erläuterungen zum Historischen Atlas der österreichischen Alpenländer, 2. Abteilung: Kirchenund Grafschaftskarte, pt. 18 (Vienna 194058). r. noll, Frühes Christentum in Österreich (Vienna 1954). i. zibermayr, Noricum, Baiern und Österreich (2d ed. Horn 1956). k. oettinger, Das Werden Wiens (Vienna 1951). h. von srbik, Die Beziehungen von Staat und Kirche in Österreich während des Mittelalters (Innsbruck 1904). s. r. von lama, Am tiefsten Quell, 3 v. (Vienna 196364); v.1 Der Aufbau des christlichen Österreich; v. 2 Im Zeit alter des Kampfes um die Glaubenserneuerung; v. 3 Überwindung der Aufklärung. Austrian saints, mystics since the Middle Ages. f. klostermann et al., Die Kirche in Österreich (Vienna 1966). w. buchowiecki, Die gotischen Kirchen Österreichs (Vienna 1952). k. eder, Studien zur Reformationsgeschichte Oberösterreichs, 2 v. (Linz 193336). g. mecenseffy, Geschichte des Protestantismus in Österreich (Graz 1956). a. coreth, Pietas Austriaca. Ursprung und Entwicklung barocker Frömmigkeit in Österreich (Munich 1960). f. maass, Der Josephinismus, 5 v. (Vienna 195161). f. engel-janosi, Österreich und der Vatikan, 2 v. (Graz 195860). e. weinzierl-fischer, Die österreichischen Konkordate von 1855 und 1933 (Vienna 1961). f. funder, Vom Gestern ins Heute (Vienna 1955); Als Österreich den Sturm bestand (Vienna 1957). a. diamant, Austrian Catholics and the First Republic: Democracy, Capitalism, and the Social Order, 19181934 (Princeton 1960). a. hudal, Der Katholizismus in Österreich (Innsbruck 1931). k. rudolf, Aufbau im Widerstand (Salzburg 1947). l. lentner, "Custos quid de nocte?", Festschrift Michael Pfliegler (Vienna 1961). e. bodzenta, Die Katholiken in Österreich: Ein religions-soziologischer Überblick (Vienna 1962). j. wodka, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, eds., j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 7:127984. Bilan du Monde, 2:109118. k. s. latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age: A History of Christianity in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, 5 v. (New York 195862) v.1, 4. f. engel-janosi, Die politische Korrespondenz der Päpste mit den österreichischen Kaisern, 18041918 (Vienna 1964). Annuario Pontificio has annual data on all dioceses.

[j. wodka]

The Church after 1945

During Nazi occupation, the Church was blamed for the defects of the Dollfuss regime and oppression began without delay. Some 1,400 establishments under clerical control were closed, while Catholic societies and youth organizations were disbanded. Numerous charitable and Church institutions were seized, and over 200 convents were suppressed. The Nazi government systematically hindered pastoral work and religious instruction and curbed clerical training. About 300,000 withdrew from the Church rather than make the requested contributions to it. Of the 724 priests arrested, 110 were sent to concentration camps, where 27 of them died and 15 others were executed.

After the war ended in 1945, the Church regained its freedom, although it now confined itself to the private sector. The concordat of 1934, negotiated between the Vatican and the Dollfuss government but abrogated when the Nazis seized power in 1938, was recognized in principle by the new republic in 1957. It is this concordat that instituted a state tax to support the Church. In 1960 the government also agreed to indemnify the Church for loss of property during the Nazi era, and in turn the Church abandoned its claims to properties confiscated by the state in the eighteenth century.

Leaving the realm of politics after World War II, the Church began to focus all its energies on confronting the worldliness of the 20th century. Since all Church associations had been destroyed during Nazi occupation, Catholic Action was organized under episcopal control; it soon became an important element in public life. Arrangements were made with the Holy See about the Religious Fund, the school problem and the creation of the Dioceses of Eisenstadt and Innsbruck.

Reforms of Vatican II. The Austrian Church supported the Second Vatican Council and embraced many of its reforms. Pius parsch of Klosterneuburg had long promoted the liturgical movement in Austria. Austrians Karl rahner, Josef Andreas jungmann and Ferdinand Klostermann played important roles at the Council as periti. After Vatican II the bishops organized diocesan and national synods to discuss its teachings and implement its directives. Most dioceses encouraged the ordination of permanent deacons. Dioceses and parishes formed advisory councils, which encouraged the laity to take an active role in decision-making and Church ministry. One of the most notable features of lay involvement was the dramatic increase in the number of women working as pastoral assistants in parishes.

After Vatican II dioceses organized a series of synods to implement the conciliar directives. Rome gave special permission for the laity to participate in these meetings as voting members. The Austrian Episcopal Conference, first held in 1849, worked closely with the German and Swiss episcopal conferences on reform in the liturgy. At their meeting in 1968, the Austrian Bishops's Conference issued a statement in support of Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae vitae, but indicated that individual couples had to make their own decisions in the matter of family planning. Austrian bishops would continue to issue statements on education, the Church in society, economics, the role of women and the treatment of Gastarbeiter ("guest workers") and were active in the support of refugees and worldwide mission activity. In 1997 the Austrian hierarchy hosted a major ecumenical conference in Graz.

Church Benefits from Able Leadership. From 1956 to 1985 the Church profited from the able leadership of Franz König (b. 1905), archbishop of Vienna and head of the Austrian Episcopal Conference. Named a cardinal in 1958, he played a leading role at Vatican II, where he strongly supported the schemata calling for the liturgical renewal. In one of his more memorable interventions he addressed the schema on the Church, commenting that it should expand on the Church's duties and its obligation to preach the Gospel, so that people could realize that humanity and not merely individuals had been redeemed by Christ.

König also pioneered the Church's Östpolitik. In 1963 he began a series of visits to Cardinal Mindszenty, confined in the American Embassy in Budapest, that resulted in Mindszenty's departure from Hungary. In 1964 Cardinal König established Pro Oriente, a center that brought together Roman Catholics, Orthodox, non-Chalcedonian Christians and Nestorians. In 1965 when Pope Paul VI established the Secretariat for Non-Believers to find a "basis for accommodation" with communists, atheists and other non-believers, König agreed to become its first president. Interested in the dialogue between faith and science, the Austrian cardinal organized numerous conferences on nuclear energy and nuclear armaments; the strong antinuclear movement in Austria owes much to his early work in the area. König also worked to heal the rift between the Catholic Church and the Austrian Socialist party.

Austria Restabilizes. By the mid-20th century Austria had regained a sense of identity and become a prosperous nation. It was ruled by a succession of coalition governments made up of representatives of the conservative Austrian People's Party, the ultra-conservative Freedom Party of Austria, and other liberal and socialist parties. In 1986 former U. N. secretary general Kurt Waldheim was elected president, despite evidence appearing to link him to Nazi war crimes; his government would be replaced by a liberal/conservative coalition. Because of its location adjacent to many Communist-bloc countries, until the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s Austria served as a "first stop" for political and economic refugees seeking asylum in the West; the end of the decade would find it equally useful for refugees from the former Yugoslavia.

In the year 2000 there were 4,240 secular and 2,225 religious priests in Austria, an almost 50 percent decrease over 1960 levels. There were 387 seminarians, while religious men numbered about 545 and religious women 6,701. Statistics indicated a dramatic decrease in the number of ordinations to the priesthood from over 100 per year at the time of Vatican II to fewer than 40 per year by 2000. Most Austrians attended state schools, and classes in religious education were obligatory, although parents were able to request exemptions for the their children. Religion in Austria was supported by a state Church tax collected on the basis of one's religious affiliation. While individuals officially declaring "no denomination" were not taxed, they also gave up a right to a church marriage, a church burial and the baptism of their children in a church.

Among the challenges confronting the Church in Austria during the 1990s was the increasing number of Catholics opting to officially leave the Church in order to stop paying the Church tax. In 2000 alone, 43,632 Catholics left the church, signaling economic repercussions on a Church structure used to regular infusions of money whether or not members attend services. In 2000, 78 percent of Austrians identified themselves as Roman Catholics, down from 89 percent in 1961.

Cardinal König continued to head the Austrian Episcopal Conference until 1985. He was succeeded by Karl Cardinal Berg of Salzburg, who in turn was succeeded by Hans Hermann Cardinal Groer, König's successor as archbishop of Vienna. Although elected to a second six-year term in 1995, Groer stepped down in the face of accusations of sexual misconduct and was succeeded by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. While the damage to the Church's public image in the aftermath of charges of sexual abuse among its hierarchy proved daunting, Cardinal Schönborn was quick to assure Catholics that faith allows believers to overcome such problems.

Moving into the 21st Century. As the Church celebrated the millennium, areas of concern revolved chiefly around Austria's liberalized views regarding sexual ethics, marriage and education. Despite Church opposition and a petition signed by almost a million people, in 1974 the socialist-controlled government had legalized abortion on demand during the first trimester of pregnancy. The government also instituted a law requiring a civil ceremony for all marriage, Church weddings to be performed as an optional secondary ceremony. During its years in power, the Socialist government passed laws permitting divorce upon mutual consent and eased penalties for homosexual acts and adultery. The political pendulum swung in the other direction at the start of the 21st century, as the February 2000 elections resulted in a conservative coalition. While the new government's right-of center views were believed to be more in line with the Church's social policies, there was also cause for concern, particularly about representatives of the nationalist Freedom Party, whose leader had been accused of anti-Semitic viewpoints and statements supportive of several Nazi policies. Church leaders were quick to respond, Cardinal Schönborn commenting that any growth of anti-Semitic feeling within Austria was a cause for concern to all. The Vatican planned to closely monitor government policies to guard against actions "contrary to Christian morality," according to a representative of the Holy See.

Because of the liberal social legislation passed during the late 1900s, Pope John Paul II developed a particular concern for the Church in Austria. During a meeting in 1997, the pope told the country's new ambassador that the mission of Austria is "to give Europe a soul," and encouraged efforts at developing a culture established on "spiritual principals." The pope visited Austria twice during the 1980s and 1990s, and attended a concert in Rome that was sponsored by the Austrian government in celebration of the anniversary of the Holy Father's ordination as a priest. In 1998 he visited Salzburg for the third time, focusing his comments on Austria's role in the reunification of post-communist Europe and encouraging Catholics to return to the Church, "Come back to her, to receive the joyous message."

Church leaders in Austria openly recognized that the Church existed in an environment indifferent to religion, even when most Catholic families had their children baptized and participated in compulsory religious education. In response, they encouraged faith-based efforts on the part of both the clergy and the laity. The international group Pax Christi had an active group in Austria. Lay groups such as Catholic Action, the Austrian Laity Council, Catholic Family Action, the Catholic Women's Movement and the Catholic Federation of Families remained active with Church financial support. These groups worked to spread the model of the modern Christian family. A variety of youth organizations also performed outreach to Austria' young people. Intellectual groups such as the Vienna Catholic Academy and the Federation of Catholic Intellectuals opened dialogue between Roman Catholicism and modern science. The Catholic Bible Work produced popular works based on modern historical critical scholarship. Austria's cultural heritage, deeply rooted in Catholicism, continued as a witness to the Christian tradition and inspired hope of renewed religious vitality.

Bibliography: Kardinal König, ed. a. fenzl (Vienna 1985). Die Furche. Österreichishche Wochenzeitung für Politik, Wissenschaft, Kultur und Religion (Vienna). Hirtenbriefe aus Deutschland, Österreich, und der Schweiz, eds., institut fÜr kirchliche zeitgeschichte, vol. 13 (Vienna 1966); vol. 4 (Salzburg 1971). a. kohl, "Katholikentag und Papstbesuch 1983: Eine kritische Würdigung," in Österreichisches Jahrbuch für Politik 1984 (Vienna 1985) 401435. f. leitner, Kirche und Parteien in Österreich nach 1945: Ihr Verhältnis unter dem Gesichtspunkt der Äquidistanzdiskussion, Politikund kommunikationswissenschaftliche Veröffentlichungen der Görres-Gesellschaft, v. 4 (Paderborn 1988). Kirche in Österreich 19381988: Eine Dokumentation, ed. m. leibmann (Graz 1990). f. loidl, Geschichte des Erzbistums Wien (Munich 1983). t. piffle-percevic, Kirche in Österreich: Berichte, Überlegungen, Entwürfe (Graz 1979). e. weinzierl, "Kirche seit 1970," in Der österreichische Weg 19701985 (Beiträge zum wissenschaftlichen Symposium des Dr Karl-Renner-Instituts, abgehalten vom 27 Februar bis 1 März 1985 in Wien), ed. e. frÖschle (Vienna 1986) 23947.

[a. bunnell/eds.]

About this article

Austria, The Catholic Church in

Updated About content Print Article