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Cardinal Franz König: 1905-2004, Franz Koenig, PhD, born 1905; ordination; 1938-1945 youth minister; 1949 professor of moral theology in Salzburg; 1952-1956 Bishop Coadjutor in St. Poelten; 1956-1985 Archbishop of Vienna, from 1958 Cardinal; as member of two commissions Cardinal Koenig made essential contributions to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). 1964 foundation of the ecclesial fund "Pro Oriente" which enabled great progress in the cooperation with the churches of Eastern Europe and Asia. 1965-1980 he was president of the Vatican Secretariat for Non-Believers, and 1985-1990 president of Pax Christi International. As emeritus Cardinal Koenig is again active in ministry.

  1. Influence of Zarathushtra in the World


The press announcement regarding his death is attached below.
Austria's Cardinal Franz Koenig; Helped Form Vatican Policy
By William J. Kole
Associated Press
Sunday, March 14, 2004; Page C10

VIENNA -- Cardinal Franz Koenig, Austria's highest moral authority and a former trendsetter for the Vatican's policy toward other religions and postwar communist regimes, died March 13. He was 98.

The famed Pummerin bell in Vienna's downtown St. Stephen's Cathedral rang solemnly in honor of the Vienna archbishop, who was widely revered in overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Austria even after his retirement in 1985.

He died in his sleep in Vienna, Austrian radio reported. No cause of death was given.

Cardinal Koenig is known to have facilitated the nomination of Polish-born Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who would become Pope John Paul II. He recalled that at the time, Poland's top churchmen voiced misgivings that the pontiff-to-be was "too young and too little-known."

Cardinal Koenig was Vienna's archbishop from 1956 until 1958, when Pope John XXIII elevated him to cardinal. He was president of the papal Secretariat for Non-Believers from 1966 to 1981 and played a key role in preparations for the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council.

No other churchman enjoyed greater prestige or managed to penetrate Austria's cultural elite and public life. A renowned church scholar, the multilingual cardinal felt as much at ease among foreign dignitaries, actors and scientists as he did with young people and trade union functionaries.

Born in the lower Austria village of Rabenstein, the future cardinal studied at the Gregoriana papal university in Rome and later at its Bible Institute, where he specialized in old Persian languages and religion.

He received a doctorate in philosophy in 1930 and another in theology in 1936, three years after being ordained a priest.

After years as a chaplain and teacher during World War II, Cardinal Koenig became a professor in Krems, Austria, in 1945 and a university professor in Salzburg, Austria, in 1948. His many publications included the three-volume "Christ and the Earth's Religions."

In a move considered bold at the time, he participated in a conference in Bombay with representatives of three non-Christian religions in 1964.

In 1960, Cardinal Koenig was surprisingly granted a visa by Yugoslavia's communist authorities to attend the funeral in Zagreb of Croatian Cardinal Alojze Stepinac. Cardinal Koenig's car was involved in a serious car accident enroute to the funeral, and he recalled awaking in a hospital decorated with a huge portrait of Yugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito.

By staring for days at Tito's portrait, Cardinal Koenig said, he conceived the idea that the archbishop of Vienna should do more for the churches behind the former Iron Curtain.

Dispatched by Pope John XXIII, Cardinal Koenig in 1963 became the first Catholic prelate to visit Hungarian Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty, and subsequent visits ultimately led to Mindszenty's departure to the West.

After that unprecedented journey, Cardinal Koenig also visited Poland and Romania and later the Orthodox Church of Serbia.