Cardinal Schönborn thanks Belmont Abbey for service to the Church
Austrian prelate receives honorary degree
BELMONT — Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, O.P., the Archbishop of Vienna, Austria, celebrated Mass with the bishops of Charlotte and Charleston, S.C., along with others at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians at Belmont Abbey College June 29.
The cardinal, a renowned theologian, educator and editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, was on a personal visit at the invitation of the Benedictine monastery and college in Belmont.
Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis and Charleston, S.C., Bishop Robert Guglielmone concelebrated the Mass, held on the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul. Bishop Emeritus William G. Curlin, Abbot Placid Solari of Belmont Abbey, and Monsignor Mauricio W. West, vicar general and chancellor of the Diocese of Charlotte, also concelebrated.
In his homily, Cardinal Schönborn thanked the monastery and the college for their service to the Church, calling them "co-workers with God," in the words of St. Paul.
They are "rocks on which Jesus can build His Church today," Cardinal Schönborn said, and he urged all of the faithful – bishops, priests, monks and laity – to follow Jesus' call just as St. Peter did, as retold in the day's Gospel reading from Matthew 16.
"He builds His Church upon each of us – a mother, a father, a priest, a teacher. Each of us is called to be a rock," Cardinal Schönborn said.
But, he added, "It is not our Church. It is His Church. And it is not we who build this Church – it is He who builds His Church. This is the true strength of His Church, because it is His, and He is the builder."
When Jesus called St. Peter the rock upon which He would build His Church, He was entrusting the continuing work of evangelization and confession of the one true faith to human beings, Cardinal Schönborn said.
Even though we are weak in our humanity, just as Peter was, "do not be afraid," the cardinal encouraged everyone. "It is His work."
Cardinal Schönborn demurred from addressing current issues facing the Church in the U.S., such as the campaign for religious freedom or protection of marriage and family life.
But, he said, "I congratulate you for the stand you have taken, and for your courage, for your commitment. May God bless the good work that you do."
Following Mass, Cardinal Schönborn attended a luncheon in his honor at the college, and he was awarded an honorary doctorate.
Dr. William Thierfelder, president of Belmont Abbey College, said, "We are a Catholic college loyal to the Magisterium and it is an honor to have him here."
Born in Bohemia, in what is now part of the Czech Republic, Cardinal Schönborn moved to Austria when he was just a boy. He studied theology in Paris, and philosophy and psychology in Bornheim-Walberberg and Vienna. He also studied theology at the Catholic Institute of Paris, before studying Slavic and Byzantine Christianity at the Sorbonne.
He was ordained a Dominican priest in 1970 in Vienna, when he was 25.
He studied under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the University of Regensburg in Germany. He obtained a Licentiate of Sacred Theology in 1971 and subsequently completed a doctorate in sacred theology in Paris.
He was consecrated a bishop in 1991 when he was 46 years old, choosing as his episcopal motto "I have called you friends" (from John 15:15).
He was elevated to a cardinal in 1998 by Blessed John Paul II. He has been the Archbishop of Vienna since 1995. In 2005 he was one of the youngest cardinals to participate in the election of Pope Benedict XVI.
In collaboration with then-Cardinal Ratzinger, Cardinal Schönborn was responsible for editing the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the early 1990s. More recently, he has written YOUCAT, short for "Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church," which was launched on World Youth Day 2011.
Cardinal Schönborn enjoys curial membership in the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith, Oriental Churches, and Catholic Education. He is a member of the pontifical Council on Culture, the commission on the Cultural Heritage of the Church, as well as the Special Council for Europe of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. He is also Ordinary for the faithful of the Byzantine Rite in Austria.
He is fluent in German, French, English, Italian, Spanish and Latin.
— Mary B. Worthington, correspondent, and Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor