Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, has congratulated the cross-dressing Austrian winner of the Eurovision Song Contest.
The singer, who won this year’s contest for Austria with the song Rise Like a Phoenix, is a gay man who performs as the drag persona Conchita Wurst.
“I am glad that Tom Neuwirth had such success with his artistic creation Conchita Wurst and I will pray for him,” Cardinal Schönborn said.
“As we all know, there is multicoloured variety in God’s garden. Not everyone who is born male feels he is a man and the same applies to women. Such people deserve the same respect that we all have a right to as human beings”, Schönborn told Kathpress.
The issue of tolerance, to which the singer said her performance was dedicated, was a “very real and major issue”, the cardinal said, adding that people like Tom Neuwirth had been exposed to ridicule, nastiness and intolerance. Tolerance meant “respecting someone even if one does not share his or her views,” Schönborn emphasised.
Schönborn’s spokesman, Michael Prüller, told the Austrian broadcasting corporation ORF that Conchita Wurst would not alter the Church’s stance on homosexuals. He recalled what Schönborn had said in 2012 when he permitted a homosexual to remain on a parish council. “A pathway to conversion and repentance is necessary for those who live in homosexual relationships. One must help them to see that their relationship is not God’s plan. We cannot change that plan but we can remember that God is infinitely merciful,” Schönborn had said.