Franz Cardinal König (center)

Franz Cardinal König (born August 3, 1905) is the former Archbishop of Vienna (1956 - 1985), and a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. As of early 2004, he is the second oldest cardinal worldwide, and the longest-serving.

Born in Warth near Rabenstein, Lower Austria, as the oldest of nine children, König went to a Catholic school in Melk (Stiftsgymnasium) and later studied in Rome. Ordained as a priest in 1933, he pursued an academic career (first Privatdozent, later Professor at the University of Salzburg) before being appointed Archbishop of Vienna in 1956 as the successor of Theodor Cardinal Innitzer. König was elevated to Cardinal in 1958.

In the 1970s he worked, together with Austrian Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, towards a reconciliation between socialism and the Catholic Church although he vehemently opposed the introduction of legalised abortion by Kreisky's Socialist government and was also seen taking part in a demonstration. Within the Church, he was mainly concerned with questions of ecumenism. He was also president of the Vatican Secretariat for Non-Believers and played a key role in the election of Pope John Paul II as pope.

His successor as Archbishop of Vienna was Hans Hermann Groer, a man in whose appointment König had no part and who was eventually removed from office by Pope John Paul II for sexual misconduct.

Cardinal König is still active in the Archdiocese of Vienna, which is now under the care of the current Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn. In 2003, while on holiday, König had a bad fall and fractured his hip. However, after being operated on he made a speedy recovery and a few months later celebrated Mass again, only supported by his bishop's staff.

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