The Archdiocese of Vaduz has existed for 25 years – kath.ch
25 years Archdiocese of Vaduz: For most people in Liechtenstein, this date is no reason to celebrate. Archbishop Wolfgang Haas stands for the last controversial appointment of a bishop in the 1980s in German-speaking countries. Cardinal Groer in Vienna, his colleague Meisner in Cologne and Bishop Krenn of St. Pölten also ruled their dioceses in strife.
Anyone who has ever built a house knows that nothing lasts longer than provisional solutions. John Paul II. (1978-2005), saint and, as pontifex, the highest bridge builder in the Catholic Church, created a provisional arrangement with the Archdiocese of Vaduz 25 years ago that has lasted for a quarter of a century. And if Archbishop Wolfgang Haas has his way, then it will continue to exist in the future.
New job for Bishop Haas
In the Council of Priests of the Archdiocese of Vaduz, Haas called this a safe scenario. Everything in Liechtenstein will continue as before, even if he offers the Pope his resignation in August 2023 on his 75th birthday. A few days ago, Haas then added a rather smug-looking pastoral letter in which he placed everything that was going to happen under the umbrella of providence.
On December 2, 1997, 25 years ago, the Principality of Liechtenstein received its own Archdiocese of Vaduz, which was separated from the Swiss Diocese of Chur. Why? Above all, a new job was needed for the famous Chur bishop Haas, who, with his extremely conservative conduct of office and his style of communication, could no longer be kept there.
The Last Survivor
Haas is the last survivor from a squad of very controversial and decidedly conservative bishop appointments in the late 1980s in German-speaking countries under Pope John Paul II (1978-2005). Cardinals Hans Hermann Groër (Vienna) and Joachim Meisner (Cologne), bishops Kurt Krenn (Sankt Pölten) and Haas (Chur) governed dioceses in strife. Groër stumbled over the abuse of a minor, Krenn over a sex scandal in his seminary.
Haas was charged directly by the Vatican in Chur. At the request of the French Bishop of Chur, Johannes Vonderach, in March 1988 the Pope appointed him coadjutor (assistant to the bishop) with the right to succeed him. This circumvented the right of the cathedral chapter to freely elect a bishop – a possibility that canon law provides for.
Haas was transferred to his homeland
In Chur, Haas met with bitter opposition from Catholics, who were used to co-determination, because of his course and his personnel decisions. After many years of unrest and conflicts, the Vatican finally found a solution to the Chur quarrels in 1997: the approximately 160 square kilometer small Principality of Liechtenstein, which has been state sovereign since 1806, but canonically changed to the Swiss Diocese of Chur, became an independent archdiocese with a bishopric in the raised in the capital Vaduz.
At the time, the news caused outrage among many in Liechtenstein. They threatened to occupy the church and disrupt the inauguration. The government, almost the entire state parliament and the church choir boycotted the celebration. Prince Hans Adam II, on the other hand, supported Haas and the new archbishopric.
Believers «completely isolated»
The following quarter of a century in Catholic Liechtenstein was by no means free of friction. The theologian Günther Boss speaks of an archdiocese with only ten parishes, which is “absurd in such a small way”. Not only believers are “completely isolated”; Wolfgang Haas has also increasingly isolated himself, said Boss in an interview with kath.ch. “Nobody can get to him anymore. Sometimes not even his own clergy.”
Archbishop Haas rejected participation in the global synodal process called by Pope Francis as “unnecessary”. In Liechtenstein, he argued, people can talk to each other at any time. However, Boss criticized that Haas showed “no material interest in the opinion of believers”. That’s why Boss and his “Association for an Open Church” launched their own synodal path for Liechtenstein – bypassing the archbishop.
Even under a cheese dome?
Günther Boss is convinced: «We need an opening to the outside world; a stronger involvement in a bishops’ conference and a connection to other dioceses and bishops.” What if that doesn’t happen after the Haas era? “Then we’ll stay under a cheese dome.” (kna)
© Catholic Media Center, 11/27/2022
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