By Hilary White

VIENNA, August 31, 2009 ( – Two of Austria's most senior Catholic prelates have taken the mayor of Vienna to task for his support of a “celebration” of one of the city's commercial abortion facilities. In a letter of protest to Mayor Michael Haupl, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, said that abortion, as the taking of a human life, “is not a trivial issue.”

The furor comes in connection to the celebration of the 30-year anniversary of the “Turning Pro-woman ambulatory” clinic, to be held at the Vienna city hall.

As Kathpress reported, the Archbishop of Vienna said that the planned party demonstrates that “obviously there is no consensus regarding the protection of human life from conception.”

“Nobody is calling for desperate women to be punished. But abortion is not a solution.”

Cardinal Schönborn recalled the words of Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, saying, “I do not close my eyes to the problems and conflicts of many women and I am aware that the credibility of our discourse on the human right to life also depends on what the Church itself does to help affected women.”

The cardinal wrote that the “time has come” to discuss providing women with alternatives to abortion. He referred to a diocesan fund for women in unexpected pregnancies: “In the 36 years since the founding of the fund it has helped thousands of women – both materially and spiritually – and thousands of children were born, because these funds were available.” 

“A rich society like Austria, a thriving city like Vienna can create a structure so that women do not feel impelled to consider abortion,” said Cardinal Schönborn.
Unusually, the cardinal's letter was published by the diocesan media service.

Klaus Küng, the bishop of St. Pölten and the head of the office for marriage, family life and protection of life of the Austrian Bishops' Conference, said, “I ask myself as a man and a bishop, in fact exactly what should be celebrated.

“The 30-year existence of an abortion clinic, in which thousands of children were killed, can not be a cause for celebration.” He said that Häupl's giving permission to host a ceremony for the facility at City Hall sends a completely wrong signal.

Häupl said that the event was a cocktail party for the volunteer staff of the facility that had been organized not by himself but by the Bureau of Health Councilor Sonja Wehsely. Wehsely told media that a cancellation is “not an option.”


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