Austria: Death of Cardinal König, man of interreligious dialogue

Source: FSSPX News


He had played an important role in the preparation of Vatican II, first of all as a member of the central commission for the preparation of the Council, then in the theological commission where “he was,” acknowledged La Croix of March 15, “one of the figures with progressive leanings, openly opposed to Cardinal Ottaviani”. He was notably asked by the Vatican to commit himself to dialogue with the Churches of the Orient, thus paying a visit to Athenagoras I, Patriarch of Constantinople, in 1961, in order to prepare his meeting in 1964 with Paul VI.

In order to encourage these ecumenical meetings, he created that year, the Pro Oriente foundation, whose objective is to “to maintain and promote ecumenical relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, both pre-Chalcedonian and pre-Ephesian, to deepen the ecumenical mentality and encourage ecumenical initiatives between Christians”.

Franz König was the last Cardinal created by John XXIII, in 1958. Participating actively in the Vatican Ostpolitik, he was one of the architects of this policy of opening up to the East, together with Cardinal Casaroli, Vatican Secretary of State. His influence on this subject was very important during Vatican II, where he contributed to the development of an examination of conscience by the Catholic Church, the only way, according to him, to engage in a genuine dialogue with the modern world.

His knowledge of Eastern countries, when Europe was still divided, allowed him to discover the qualities of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla in 1978, during the second of the three conclaves in which he participated. According to indiscreet voices, John Paul II owed his election to the papacy, to him.

In March 1999, he took up his pen to write in the Swiss revue Choisir, in order to defend the interreligious stance of the Jesuit, Jacques Dupuis, who was harassed at the time by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In 2000, he pleaded against “a Vatican III”, but for the deepening of Vatican II, which he considered yet to be discovered, and for “a decentralization of power” in the Church, deploring “Roman centralization”.