By John-Henry Westen

  VIENNA, Austria, February 6, 2007 ( – Salzburg Auxiliary Bishop Andreas Laun has caused a stir in the German press by saying publicly that a Catholic businessman who rented space in his shopping mall to an abortion clinic has excommunicated himself.  The businessman, Richard Lugner, at first threatened to sue Bishop Laun but has since thought better of the lawsuit but has not reconsidered his aiding and abetting the killing of unborn children.

  In an interview with the Catholic News Agency Austria ( ), Bishop Laun was asked if Lugner’s action constituted an automatic excommunication (latae sententiae).  Bishop Laun replied, “Certainly. The catechism says: ‘The formal cooperation in an abortion is a grave delict. The Church punishes this violation with the penalty of excommunication.’ Because Lugner cooperates in abortions, by letting them happen in his shopping mall, the norm applies to him and he is excommunicated.

  Scandal broke when Erich Leitenberger, the press secretary of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, came to Lugner’s defence. Leitenberher, also the editor-in-chief of the Catholic Press Agency in Germany ‘Kathpress’, disparaged the work of and Bishop Laun saying, “Academic discussions about excommunication will not help to save the right to life of even one child.”

  The scandal was quickly put to an end however when Cardinal Schönborn commented to the largest paper in Austria on the matter.  Backing Auxiliary Bishop Laun, the Cardinal said, “The destruction of life must not be made banal and viewed like a shopping trip. It must not be that a society is viewed as a way out. Everything you need to know about abortion is to be found in the Fifth Commandment.” In an interview with, Cardinal Schönborn said that he had asked Lugner to not sign a contract with the abortion clinic. He added that he was pleased with the discussion the controversy had caused.

  News tip and translation courtesy of Gerald Augustinus of