January 21, 2005

Seminary scandal led to Catholic exodus.

The Tablet

A record number of Catholics left the Austrian Church after the sex scandal at the St Pölten seminary last July.

Fifty thousand Catholics officially left the Church in 2004. The nationwide average of 40 per cent was even higher than in 1995 when the former Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, was accused of sexually abusing a minor. In 2004 the St Pölten diocese had 45 per cent more Catholics leaving than in the previous year, after a scandal at the seminary involving the downloading of child pornography and claims of homosexual activity. Bishop Klaus Küng subsequently replaced Kurt Krenn as Bishop of St Pölten.

Commenting on the main evening news on 17 January, the dean of the Catholic Theological Faculty of Vienna University, Professor Paul Zulehner, said the exodus was still primarily due to the controversial episcopal appointments that the Vatican had made in the Austrian Church after the late Cardinal Hans König's retirement in 1985. The fact that Rome delayed in responding to the St Pölten crisis had made things even worse, said Professor Zulehner. Since the "Groer Affair" of the mid-1990s, "the immune system of Austrian Catholics has grown steadily weaker so they can no longer cope with further bouts of scandals", he said.

Posted by kshaw at January 21, 2005 06:10 PM