Christopher Schönborn
cardinal and archbishop of Vienna

A brief biography.


Christoph Schönborn was born in Skalsko, diocese of Litomerice, Bohemia on January 22, 1945. His family fled to Austria when he was only nine months old, in September 1945. 

At the age of 18 he entered the Dominican Order (1963) and studied in Dominican houses of studies in Walberberg, Bonn, Germany; Le Saulchoir, Paris (doctorate in theology). "École Practique de Hautes Études", La Sorbonne University, Paris; "Institute Catholique", Paris.
He was ordained a priest on December 27, 1970. After more studies (1971-1973) he became chaplain to university students, Graz, Austria, 1973-1975. He was promoted to associate professor of Dogma at the University of Fribourg in 1976, then Professor of Theology a year later and in 1981 he became Professor for Dogmatic Theology at the same institution until 1991.

In 1980 he was appointed a member of the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Dialogue Commission of Switzerland for seven years as well as a member of the foundation "Pro Oriente" in 1984-1991. Attended II Extraordinary Assembly of the World Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, November 24-December 8, 1985; assistant to special secretary. Faculty member, Superior Philosophical School of Cistercians Abbey of Heiligenkreuz, Vienna, Austria. In 1987 he was appointed Secretary for the Draft-Commission of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, a position he held until 1992.




Schönborn was elected titular bishop of Sutri and appointed auxiliary of Vienna, July 11, 1991. On September 29, 1991 Pope John Paul II made him Auxiliary Bishop of Vienna, consecrated, September 29, 1991, in Vienna, by Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër, O.S.B., archbishop of Vienna. He was promoted to Co-Adjutor Bishop with right of succession of Vienna on April 13, 1995 and five months later on September 14,1995 he was named the acting Archbishop of Vienna.




Created cardinal priest, February 21, 1998; received the red biretta and the title of Gesù Divin Lavoratore, February 23, 1998. President of Austrian Episcopal Conference, 1998-. Attended II Special Assembly for Europe of the World Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, October 1-23, 1999.


He enjoys curial membership in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Oriental Churches as well as the Pontifical Council for Culture. There are some prognostics who believe Cardinal Schönborn is being groomed quite possibly to take over in three or four years as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a very important curial position now held by the esteemed Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.


He is one of the youngest of the cardinals and in the same line of thinking as Cardinal Ratzinger and John Paul II. There already is mounting a struggle between the people of Austria and the Holy See for the people love him dearly and it is because of him there was not an all-out schism there.
Yet the Vatican sees this bright young prelate as a force in the new millennium for the universal Church. He has sought to soothe a growing schism in his homeland from the fallout and fall of the previous Archbishop of Vienna Cardinal Hans Herman Groër, the Benedictine prelate whose career ended in shame because of homosexual tendencies and child abuse.

Pope John Paul II appointed Cardinal Schönborn immediately upon Groër's retirement and it has been an uphill battle for the young Schönborn whose temperament and personality are warm and inviting.







Cardinal Christoph Schönborn:
the third on the first line.



Vatican City 1998, KimCover PW 1386.





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