Christoph Schönborn

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His Eminence Cardinal 
Christoph Schönborn,
Archbishop of Vienna

Cardinal Schönborn in Altötting on the day Pope Benedict XVI visited the town.
Archdiocese Vienna
Enthroned 14 September 1995
Predecessor Hans Hermann Groër
Other posts Auxiliary Bishop of Vienna and Titular Bishop of Sutrium (1991–1995); Coadjutor Archbishop of Vienna (April–September 1995)
Ordination 27 December 1970 (Priest)
Consecration 29 September 1991 (Bishop)
Created Cardinal 21 February 1998
Rank Cardinal-Priest of Gesù Divin Lavoratore
Personal details
Born (1945-01-22) 22 January 1945 (age 68)
Skalken Castle, Bohemia (now Czech Republic)
Nationality Austrian
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Parents Count Hugo-Damian von Schönborn and Baroness Eleonore von Doblhoff
  • Vos Autem Dixi Amicos
  • (I have called you friends)
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Styles of
Christoph Schönborn
Coat of arms of Christoph Schönborn.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Christoph Maria Michael Hugo Damian Peter Adalbert (Graf von) Schönborn, OP (born 22 January 1945) is a Bohemian-born Austrian cardinal of the Catholic Church and theologian. He currently serves as the Archbishop of Vienna and President of the Austrian Bishops Conference. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 1998. He is also the chaplain of the Order of the Golden Fleece, of which he has been a member since 1961. He is a member of the formerly sovereign princely House of Schönborn. He is seen as a leading candidate for the papacy because he is conservative, albeit a "balanced reformer".[1] Schönborn has travelled widely and is well known in the Catholic Church globally for editing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He is a former student of Pope Benedict XVI and a close confidant.[1]


[edit] Family and early life

His birthplace and ancestral castle, Skalka Castle in modern Vlastislav
Lady Selina Meade (1797–1872), married Countess of Clam-Martinic, painted by Thomas Lawrence

Christoph Maria Michael Hugo Damian Peter Adalbert Graf von Schönborn was born at Skalka Castle, west of Litoměřice, Bohemia (now Czech Republic), the second son of the Count Maria Hugo Damian Adalbert Josef Hubertus von Schönborn and Baroness Eleonore Ottilie Hilda Maria von Doblhoff. He is a member of the House of Schönborn and descends from some of the leading aristostratic families of Bohemia and other lands of the Habsburg Empire of both German Bohemian, Czech Bohemian and German Austrian origin, including Lobkowicz, Chotek, Wurmbrand-Stuppach and Clam-Martinic. The counts of Schönborn became lords of the lordship of Skalken in Bohemia in 1796 and were owners of the lordship until a land reform in 1923. The Schönborn family continued to live in the local castle, until the family fled the communists and settled in Austria, where Christoph Schönborn grew up. His parents divorced in 1959. He has two brothers and one sister. Several members of the Schönborn family held high offices in the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire from the 17th century, including several prince-bishops, cardinals and ecclesiastical prince-electors.[2] His legal birth name is Christoph (Maria Michael Hugo Damian Peter Adalbert) Graf von Schönborn, the name under which he is still often referred to, while Austrian authorities registered him under the name "Christoph Schönborn."

Christoph Schönborn also descends from the astronomers Joseph Johann Littrow and Karl L. Littrow, and the feminist pioneer Auguste von Littrow. He also has an Irish great-great-great-grandmother, Lady Selina Meade (1797–1872), the daughter of Richard Meade, 2nd Earl of Clanwilliam (1766–1805), married Countess of Clam-Martinic.

[edit] Early church career

In September 1945, his family was forced to flee from Bohemia. Schönborn took his Matura examination in 1963, and entered the Order of Preachers. He studied theology in Paris; and philosophy and psychology in Bornheim-Walberberg and Vienna. Schönborn also attended the Catholic Institute of Paris for further theological work, before studying Slavic and Byzantine Christianity at the Sorbonne.

He was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Franz König on 27 December 1970 in Vienna. Schönborn obtained a Licentiate of Sacred Theology in 1971, and later studied in Regensburg under Fr. Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI). He subsequently completed a doctorate in Sacred Theology in Paris. From 1975 he was Professor of Dogmatics at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. In 1980, he became a member of the International Theological Commission of the Holy See, and in 1987 he became editorial secretary for the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In 1991 he was chosen to become an auxiliary bishop of Vienna.

[edit] Archbishop of Vienna

He was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Vienna on 11 April 1995 and succeeded as Archbishop of Vienna on 14 September 1995. He was created Cardinal-Priest of Gesù Divin Lavoratore by Pope John Paul II in the consistory of 21 February 1998. Considered among the papabili following John Paul's death, Cardinal Schönborn was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Schönborn remains eligible to vote in any future papal conclaves that begin before his 80th birthday on 22 January 2025.

He serves as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that for the Oriental Churches, and that for Catholic Education, and of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church. On 5 January 2011 he was appointed among the first members of the newly created Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation.[3]

Cardinal Schörnborn (with crosier) walking in the Otto von Habsburg funeral procession

Cardinal Schönborn also serves as the chaplain to the Austrian Order of the Golden Fleece. In addition to his native German, he is fluent in English, French, Italian, Spanish and Latin. Schönborn's episcopal motto is Vos autem dixi amicos (I have called you friends) from John 15:15.

Cardinal Schönborn presided over the requiem for Otto of Habsburg, former Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, in St. Stephen's Cathedral on 16 July 2011.[4]

On Tuesday, 18 September 2012, Cardinal Schönborn was named by Pope Benedict XVI as a Synod Father for the upcoming October 2012 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.[5]

[edit] Response to sex abuse

In March 2010 he called for priestly celibacy in the Latin Rite to be re-examined in the light of sex scandals. Cardinal Schönborn suggested that the Church should carry out an "unflinching examination" of causes of the scandal, including "the issue of priests' training". He wrote in his archdiocesan magazine, "...the question of priest celibacy and the question of personality development...requires a great deal of honesty, both on the part of the church and of society as a whole". Cardinal Schönborn's spokesman, Erich Leitenberger, issued a clarification later stating that the cardinal was not "in any way seeking to question the Catholic Church's celibacy rule".

In May 2010 Schönborn told Austrian Catholic news agency Kathpress: "The days of cover-up are over. For a long while the Church's principle of forgiveness was falsely interpreted and was in favour of those responsible and not the victims." He added that during the 1990s, when Cardinal Groër, the then leader of Austria's Catholics, was accused of sex abuse, a "track of Vatican diplomacy" had muddied the investigation and led to a cover-up. Cardinal Schönborn said that the then Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano indirectly blocked the attempts and Cardinal Groër had simply faded into the background.[6]

[edit] Views

Schönborn has been described as a "conciliatory pragmatist who is open to dialogue."[7]

[edit] Catholic-Orthodox dialogue

Schönborn has said that theological differences between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches can be resolved, if the two faiths can overcome the burden of history.[8]

[edit] HIV/AIDS and condoms

In 1996, Schönborn told an Austrian television audience that someone suffering from AIDS might use a condom as a "lesser evil", but he quickly cautioned, "no one could affirm that the use of a condom is the ideal in sexual relations."[9]

[edit] Mozart, Catholicism and Freemasonry

According to Eric Leitenberger, Schönborn's spokesman, the cardinal's position is that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a Freemason, but that he was also fully Catholic.[10]

[edit] Evolution and the Catholic Church

In an editorial in the New York Times on 7 July 2005[11] Schönborn accepted the possibility of evolution but criticised certain "neo-Darwinian" theories as incompatible with Catholic teaching:

Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense – an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection – is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.

This statement created considerable controversy, including public criticism of Schönborn's views by the director of the Vatican Observatory, George Coyne, SJ, who pointed out that Pope John Paul II’s declaration that “evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis” is now “a fundamental church teaching”[12] and a response by Catholic physicist Stephen Barr in the Catholic periodical First Things,[13] to which Schönborn in turn replied.[14]

[edit] Ancestry

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Hans Hermann Groër
Archbishop of Vienna
14 September 1995–incumbent
Succeeded by