The well-known thirteenth-century Minorite church (Minoritenkirche) in the centre of Vienna is now in the possession of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX).
The church was given to the Italians as a spiritual home for the Italian community by the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (1765-1790), and was owned by the “Italian Congregation of Our Lady of the Snows”, a private society, until June this year when it was given to the SSPX.
According to the SSPX bulletin, the Italian owners made the surprising offer to the SSPX of the church as a gift in November 2020, an offer which the SSPX gladly accepted as they have been looking for a church in Vienna for years.
On 11 September, the Vienna archdiocese confirmed that the Minoritenkirche was now officially owned by the SSPX. The archdiocese had in no way been involved in the transaction and had only learned of it through the media, Michael Prüller, spokesman for Vienna Archbishop Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, explained. From now on, the archdiocese would no longer be able to influence or supervise events in the church, he said.
The original purpose of the Emperor Joseph’s foundation, namely to give the Italian community a spiritual home in Vienna, “cannot be fulfilled by the Society of St Pius X, which is in conflict with the Catholic Church”, Prüller pointed out. Today’s 13,500-strong, flourishing Italian community in Vienna, had therefore been given a new home in a church in Vienna’s eighth district.
The SSPX has meanwhile accused Cardinal Schönborn of “leading the Novus Ordo group into a downward spiral of homosexualism and modernism”.