By John-Henry Westen

VIENNA, July 11, 2008 ( РOn June 25, Vienna Archbishop Cardinal Christoph Sch̦nborn awarded Vienna Deputy Mayor Renate Brauner the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great, one of the highest honors conferred by the Catholic Church.

While the US Bishops Conference has agreed not to confer honors on supporters of abortion, European bishops have not yet addressed the issue. In their 2004 document, Catholics in Political Life, the US Bishops’ Conference states: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honour those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honours or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” (see coverage: )

The German-language Catholic news service reports that Brauner is a well-known supporter of abortion. In 2000 when Austrian politician Herbert Haupt attempted to protect the right to life of handicapped children by banning abortion for such unborn children after the third month of pregnancy, Brauner strenuously opposed the move. “Hands off the abortion law!” quotes her as saying.

“I consider Haupt’s suggestion to reduce the period of the so-called eugenic indication, an attempt to call abortion into question,” she said at the time. “This becomes clear as Haupt challenges the exclusive responsibility of the woman to decide for or against an abortion.”

In autumn 2005 she said: “If we socialist women speak about lasting values, we mean lasting women’s values – abortion rights are part of it.”

The Pontifical knighthood is to be awarded to “gentlemen of proven loyalty to the Holy See who, by reason of their nobility of birth and the renown of their deeds or the degree of their munificence, are deemed worthy to be honoured by a public expression of esteem on the part of the Holy See.” Moreover, recipients are to prove themselves worthy of the honour that had been conferred on them, by unswerving fidelity to God and to the sovereign Pontiff.

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