Bruno Kreisky Foundation

for Human Rights

Cardinal Dr. Franz König (Austria)

Franz König was born on August 3, 1905 in Austria. From 1927 onwards he studied philosophy and theology, as well as old Persian religions and languages. In 1930 he received his doctorate in philosophy and three years later he became a consecrated priest in Rome. From 1934 to 1937 he was a chaplain in the diocese of St. Pölten, his hometown. Coincidentally he also completed a doctorate in theology during this time period, which he received in 1936. In 1938 Dr. König was the cathedral curate in St. Pölten, as well as youth director of the diocese. He later went on to become a religion professor in Krems in 1945. He also qualified in Vienna to teach college level courses on the Old Testament in Vienna. In 1948 he was called to Salzburg as an expert in his field of study. Following his bishop’s consecration in 1952, he was appointed as Archbishop of Vienna in 1956. He was also a member of the cardinal council. As a modest man himself, he always supported the Austrian churches’ traditional connection to middle class citizens. Cardinal König appeared for the first time in worldwide church circles when he was part of the distinguished Vatican’s Second Council (1962-65). Again and again König discussed how indispensable the council is for the church in the twentieth century. He viewed the Church as a shaping factor in society.

Cardinal König specifically saw it as part of his job as Archbishop to create brotherly ties between the Austrian Church, and those of neighboring eastern European countries under the communist sphere of influence. He is regarded as the creator of the „Eastern politics“ of the Vatican. One of his additional focuses was creating ecumenical contacts with the purpose of improving dialogues among religions. In the fall of 1958 König took a break from his clerical work. In June of the same year he was elected president of the international Catholic peace movement „Pax Christi.“ He remained president for five years.

He was awarded the Bruno Kreisky Prize in 2002 for his life’s work. His understanding, reconciliation and bridge building between different religions and cultures were honored. In 2004 König passed away.