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Austrian seminary closed in homosexual scandal.

Vienna -- The seminary in Sankt Polten, at the heart of a sex scandal, was ordered closed by the Vatican-appointed Visitor, Bishop Klaus Kung, on August 12, 2004. The widespread sexual misconduct concerned homosexual activity among staff and students as well as the downloading of child pornography from the internet by several seminarians.

The scandal erupted when in early July the magazine Profit published pictures of seminary priests kissing and groping students studying for the priesthood. The bishop of Sankt Polten diocese, Kurt Krenn, refused to believe it but the Vatican did: it immediately appointed Bishop Kung, the Ordinary of the Austrian diocese of Feldkirch, with plenipotentiary powers to take action. He did. He ordered the 200-year-old seminary to be closed at once. This was followed by the resignations of the seminary rector, Fr. Ulrich Kuechl, and the vice-rector, Fr. Wolfgang Rothe.

"It was very painful for me to discover the existence of active homosexual relationships," the bishop said, adding that his work was not yet finished.

On August 13, one of the students, a Polish man identified only as Piotr Z, 27, received a six-month suspended sentence for possessing 1,700 images of perverse sex with children after the discovery of the pornographic and homosexual ring. The court placed him on probation for three years.

Bishop Kung noted that the seminary staff had not followed the necessary selection criteria strictly enough. The Austrian bishops' conference, meanwhile, issued a statement that "anything that has to do with homosexuality and pornography" has no place in a seminary" (Press Reports).


It is ironic that the scandal occurred in this particular diocese. Bishop Kurt Krenn, 68 years old and failing in health, follows the Magisterium closely; he stands out in a country with many permissive clergy and faithful. He has opposed the moral distintegration around him with vigour. The very idea of such a thing happening in his seminary was foreign to him; consequently, he attempted to minimize the scandal by thinking it could only have been done by pranksters.

The daily media, often blatantly anti-Rome, immediately howled for his dismissal and disgrace, many jumping to unwarranted accusations about the Church in general.

Typically, the liberal media in Canada decided to play down the aspect of homosexuality as too embarrassing for a cause they promote. The headline in Canada's National Post, for example, read: "Seminary shut in Austrian child porn scandal" (August 13), The Globe & Mail's news report of August 12 mentions only pornography, and avoids the word "homosexuality."
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Title Annotation:Austria
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:4EUAU
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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