Cardinal Schönborn welcomes successor after 22 years at helm of bishops’ conference

CNA Staff, Jun 16, 2020 / 07:00 am (CNA).- Austria’s bishops elected a new president Tuesday, ending Cardinal Christoph Schönborn’s 22-year term at the helm of the country’s bishops’ conference.

In a vote June 16, the bishops chose Archbishop Franz Lackner of Salzburg as their new leader. The 63-year-old Franciscan succeeds Schönborn, who turned 75 in January.

They also elected Bishop Manfred Scheuer of Linz as vice-president of the conference. The 64-year-old will take over the role from Lackner, who served in the position for five years.

The voting took place during the bishops’ plenary assembly at Mariazell, in the southeastern state of Styria, the Austrian bishops’ conference said Tuesday.

Speaking after the vote, Schönborn, a renowned theologian who helped edit the Catechism of the Catholic Church, said that his years in charge were at times “full of conflict and scandal,” but he was nevertheless grateful for the opportunity.  

“I am convinced it was the right time to hand over the reins,” he told the Austrian Catholic news agency Kathpress.

The archbishop of Vienna was elected president of the bishops’ conference in 1998 and continuously re-elected in the years that followed. In 2016, he was elected for another six-year term. 

But this March, two months after his 75th birthday, he submitted his resignation as president. The bishops were due to elect his successor later that month, but their assembly was postponed until June because of the coronavirus pandemic and he continued to serve as president. 

Schönborn, a Dominican friar descended from the Austrian nobility, tendered his resignation as archbishop of Vienna before his 75th birthday on January 22. 

The Vienna archdiocese said January 21 that Pope Francis had declined the resignation, asking Schönborn to stay on for “an indefinite period.”

In March 2019, Schönborn announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He underwent surgery in May. In an interview in the December issue of the magazine Herder Korrespondenz, he said: “It looks as if the cancer has been defeated.”

He was admitted to the hospital in December 2019 due to an acute illness which the Vienna archdiocese said was unrelated to cancer. He was forced to cancel appointments, but resumed work in January this year. 

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

1 Comment

  1. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has served humanity with dedication and distinction. Wishing the retired Cardinal good health. God bless.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Cardinal Schönborn welcomes successor after 22 years at helm of bishops’ conference - Catholic Mass Search

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.