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Hans Hermann Groër

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Hans Hermann Groër

Cardinal, Archbishop emeritus of Vienna
Groër in 1975
Appointed15 July 1986
Installed14 September 1986
Term ended14 September 1995
PredecessorFranz König
SuccessorChristoph Schönborn
Other post(s)
Ordination12 April 1942
by Theodor Innitzer
Consecration14 September 1986
by Franz König
Created cardinal28 June 1988
by Pope John Paul II
Personal details
Hans Wilhelm Groër

(1919-10-13)13 October 1919
Vienna, Austria
Died24 March 2003(2003-03-24) (aged 83)
Sankt Pölten, Austria
BuriedMarienfeld Abbey, Austria
DenominationRoman Catholic
Coat of armsHans Hermann Groër's coat of arms

Hans Hermann Wilhelm Groër OSB (13 October 1919 – 24 March 2003) was an Austrian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Vienna from 1986 to 1995, and became a cardinal in 1988. Pope John Paul II replaced him as archbishop after multiple allegations of sexual abuse of children, and at John Paul's request Groër relinquished all ecclesiastical duties and privileges as an archbishop and cardinal on 14 April 1998.[1]


Groër was born in Vienna to German parents, with whom he moved in 1929 to Czechoslovakia, where they remained for the next decade. He attended seminaries in Hollabrunn and Vienna (where he received his doctorate in theology) before being ordained to the priesthood on 12 April 1942 by Cardinal Theodor Innitzer. Groër then served as a chaplain in Petronell and Bad Vöslau until 1946, when he became Prefect of Studies at the minor seminary of Hollabrunn. He entered the Order of Saint Benedict in 1974 and took the name Hermann upon his solemn profession of vows on 8 September 1980. That same year Groër was named the spiritual director of the Legion of Mary for Austria.

On 15 July 1986, he was appointed the fifteenth Archbishop of Vienna, succeeding Cardinal Franz König. Groër received his episcopal consecration on the following 14 September from König, with Archbishop Karl Berg and Bishop Stefan László serving as co-consecrators. He was created Cardinal Priest of Santi Gioacchino ed Anna al Tuscolano by Pope John Paul II in the consistory of 28 June 1988.[2]

Sexual abuse of school boys, monks[edit]

In 1995, one of Groër's former school students accused him of sexual molestation. A number of others made similar charges shortly thereafter, as did some monks. Pope John Paul II promoted Christoph Schönborn from auxiliary bishop to Coadjutor Archbishop of Vienna on 13 April 1995 and later in the year accepted the resignation Groër had submitted as required on his 75th birthday in October 1994. Groër moved to the Roggendorf monastery, where he served as prior. When new allegations surfaced, Austrian Church officials appealed to the pope, who initiated an investigation in February 1998. In April, at the pope's request, Groër resigned as prior and withdrew from public life. He released a statement that said: "In the past three years there have been many often incorrect statements concerning me. I ask God and the people for forgiveness if I have brought guilt upon myself."[3] After surrendering his Church duties and duties as a Cardinal,[4][5] Groër left Austria as part of a "self imposed exile" for several months and moved into a convent near Dresden, Germany.[4] He continued to work as a confessor in women's monasteries, received visitors and said Mass. Suffering from cancer, his health declined rapidly.[6][7]

Austria's statute of limitations prevented civil authorities from prosecuting Groër. In 2010, Cardinal Schönborn (elevated to that rank in 1998) said that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had attempted to convince Pope John Paul II to initiate the investigation[8][9] and—in a conversation with journalists that Schönborn thought was private—said that Cardinal Angelo Sodano had blocked his attempt to investigate Groër's activities.[10][11][a] Church officials are also alleged to have offered some of Groër's former pupils compensation in return for agreeing not to repeat their charges against him.[9] Hubertus Czernin, author of a book about the case, believes that Groër abused more than 2,000 young men. Groër continued to deny the allegations until his death.[7][13]

Death and eulogies[edit]

The grave of Cardinal Groër, in the upper left an ex-voto tablet

Groër died on 24 March 2003 of pneumonia at a hospital in Sankt Pölten, where he had been treated for cancer. Cardinal Schönborn presided at the requiem Mass in St. Stephen's Cathedral and in his homily honoured his predecessor's accomplishments in strengthening Marian devotions in the Archdiocese as well as fostering priestly and monastic vocations.[citation needed] The next day, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, referenced the charges against Groër in his eulogy only to describe how Groër had suffered, noting how Groër was "deeply wounded, even stigmatized by the incidents during his last years as Archbishop of Vienna", that "when the dark cloud gathered over his life ... he sank into loneliness and contempt".[14]

Groër was buried in the cemetery of Marienfeld Abbey, the Cistercian women's monastery he was instrumental in founding in 1974.[6]


  1. ^ Pope Benedict XVI met with Schönborn on 28 June 2010 and they were then joined by Sodano. Accounts of their discussions varied.[12]


  1. ^ "Austrian Cardinal Quits in Sex Scandal". New York Times. Associated Press. 15 April 1998. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  2. ^ "Messa solenne del Papa con i nuovi cardinali". La Repubblica (in Italian). 23 February 1998. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  3. ^ "'Exile' for disgraced Austrian cardinal". BBC News. 14 April 1998. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Archives - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. 25 March 2003.
  5. ^ "Catholic Church cardinals implicated in sex abuse, cover-ups". Archived from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  6. ^ a b Gerhard Heger, Hans Hermann Groër, Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon 26 (2006), pp. 529–534.
  7. ^ a b "Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer: Disgraced Archbishop of Vienna". The Independent. London, UK. 27 March 2003. Archived from the original on 24 March 2010.
  8. ^ Owen, Richard (3 April 2010). "Vatican tries to shift blame for abuse on to John Paul". The Independent. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  9. ^ a b Pancevski, Bojan; Follain, John. "John Paul 'ignored abuse of 2,000 boys'". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 31 May 2010.
  10. ^ Pullella, Philip (9 May 2010). "Cardinal accuses Vatican official of abuse cover-up". Reuters. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  11. ^ Owen, Richard. "Archbishop of Vienna accuses one of Pope's closest aides of abuse cover-up". The Times. Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  12. ^ Arco, Anna (28 June 2010). "Benedict calls in Schönborn and Sodano". Catholic Herald. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  13. ^ Czernin, Hubertus (1998). Das Buch Groer: Eine Kirchenchronik. Dokumentation (in German). Wieser Verlag.[page needed]
  14. ^ Meisner, Joachim (5 April 2003). "Bound with Mary". Gottgeweiht. Retrieved 26 March 2017.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Archbishop of Vienna
Succeeded by
New title Cardinal Priest of Santi Gioacchino ed Anna al Tuscolano
Succeeded by