Excommunication Over Abortion: Austrian Cardinal Disagrees
Feb 04, 2007
Austria's highest Catholic official late Friday took issue with the excommunication of a real estate magnate who allowed an abortion clinic to open in a Viennese shopping mall.
(playfuls.com, February 3rd 2007) Vienna's Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn distanced himself from a pronouncement earlier in the day by Salzburg's auxiliary bishop Andreas Laun, who excommunicated Viennese socialite Richard "Moertel" Lugner, 74, from the Catholic church.
Laun told the Catholic press service kath.net on Friday that Lugner had excommunicated himself according to article 1041.4 of canonic law, as "he participates in abortion by allowing them in his shopping mall."
Scandal-prone Lugner, a one-time candidate for president and known for his hired, curvaceous celebrity escorts at the Vienna Opera Ball, announced he would sue the conservative cleric for the move.
The spokesman for Cardinal Schoenborn, Erich Leitenberger, criticized Laun's remarks on the abortion issue as "counter- productive," according to the Austrian news service APA. Without naming Laun, he warned against trivializing the anti-abortion movement with such pronouncements.
"Academic discussions about excommunication certainly do not help to save even one child's life," the spokesman said in a statement released Friday evening in Vienna.
The opening of the "sexual-medical centre" provoked protests by Catholic pro-life lobbyists in recent days.
Lugner, who will attend the February 15 Opera ball with his wife "Mausi" and guest US-party girl Paris Hilton, told the Austrian Press Agency that he was a Catholic, and had fathered four children and no abortions had been carried out.
He also noted that Austrian law permits abortions up to the twelfth week of a pregnancy and requested more understanding for women.
"These women are human beings too, not only the children," he said. "The church was the one that used to burn witches."
After Laun's excommunication of Lugner, prominent theologians rejected the declaration. An excommunication for abortion applies only to those who carry out the procedure and the women who undergo the abortions, they said.
Bishop Laun, known for his conservative views, begs to differ. A Catholic who supports abortion excluded himself from the church, he insisted.