Hans Hermann Groër

His Eminence
Hans Hermann Groër
Cardinal, Archbishop emeritus of Vienna
Archdiocese Vienna
See Vienna
Appointed 15 July 1986
Installed 14 September 1986
Term ended 14 September 1995
Predecessor Franz Cardinal König
Successor Cardinal Graf von Schönborn
Other posts
Ordination 12 April 1942
by Theodor Innitzer
Consecration 14 September 1986
by Franz Cardinal König
Created Cardinal 28 June 1988
by Pope John Paul II
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Hans Wilhelm Groër
Born (1919-10-13)13 October 1919
Vienna, Austria
Died 24 March 2003(2003-03-24) (aged 83)
Sankt Pölten, Austria
Buried Cistercian Monastery of Marienfeld, Austria
Nationality Austrian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}

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 was elevated to the cardinalate in 1988. Following allegations of child abuse, he resigned as Archbishop of Vienna on 14 September 1995, and after being asked by Pope John Paul II, 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 Theodor Cardinal Innitzer. Groër then served as a chaplain in Petronell and Bad Vöslau until 1946, when he began work as 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. The same year saw Groër named as the spiritual director of the Legion of Mary for Austria.[1]

On 15 July 1986, he was appointed the fifteenth Archbishop of Vienna, succeeding Franz Cardinal König. Groër received his episcopal consecration on the following 14 September from Cardinal 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.[1]

Sexual abuse of young men

In 1995, a former student of Groër's accused him of sexual molestation, followed, shortly thereafter, by a number of other former students and monks who emerged to make similar allegations. The Holy See then elevated Christoph, Graf von Schönborn, OP, an auxiliary bishop of Vienna, to Coadjutor Archbishop on 13 April 1995. Cardinal Groër retired as Archbishop of Vienna later in 1995 (the Pope having accepted the resignation Groër had been required to submit on 13 October 1994 upon turning 75), and was succeeded by his coadjutor. Groër then moved to the Roggendorf monastery, where he served as prior until 1998. His time at the monastery ended after the emergence of further allegations, at which point Groër withdrew from public life. He continued to work as a confessor in women's monasteries, received visitors and said Mass. Suffering from cancer, his health declined rapidly.[2][3]

Austria's statute of limitations meant that it was not possible to prosecute Groër, although the Church did choose to investigate the case in 1998.[4] Christoph, Cardinal Graf von Schönborn, said in 2010 that then-Cardinal Ratzinger had attempted to convince Pope John Paul II to initiate the investigation.[5][6] Cardinal Schönborn, however, stated in May 2010 that Angelo Cardinal Sodano had blocked his attempt to investigate Groër's activities.[7] The church is also alleged to have offered some of Groër's former pupils "hush money".[6] An investigation by Hubertus Czernin led to the claim in Czernin's book, Das Buch Groer, that Groër had abused more than 2000 young men, although the actual figure remains unknown. Groër continued to deny the allegations until his death.[3]

Death and Burial Services

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, about 40 miles west of Vienna, where he had been treated for cancer. Cardinal Schönborn presided at the requiem Mass in St. Stephan'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. On the next day, Joachim Cardinal Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne and Member of the Curia's Congregation for Bishops, presided at the Mass of Christian Burial and said in his homily that he regretted not having stood as firmly behind Groër as he should have. Franz Cardinal König was also in attendance. Cardinal Meisner said: "I was ashamed and disturbed, because I did not at all feel like I had stood by him firmly enough." [8] The deceased Archbishop of Vienna was buried in the cemetery of the Cistercian women's monastery of Marienfeld, Austria, which he had been instrumental in founding in 1974.[2]


  1. 1 2 3 Miranda, Salvador. "Hans Hermann Groër". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
  2. 1 2 Gerhard Heger, Hans Hermann Groër, Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon 26 (2006), pp. 529–534.
  3. 1 2 "Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer: Disgraced Archbishop of Vienna". The Independent. London, UK. 27 March 2003. Archived from the original on 24 March 2010.
  4. "'Exile' for disgraced Austrian cardinal". BBC News. 14 April 1998. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
  5. Owen, Richard. "Vatican tries to shift blame for abuse on to John Paul". The Independent. Published 3 April 2010.
  6. 1 2 John Paul ‘ignored abuse of 2,000 boys’, Timesonline
  7. Archbishop of Vienna accuses one of Pope’s closest aides of abuse cover-up, Timesonline
  8. http://www.gottgeweiht.at/gg401predigtkardinalmeisner.html Transcript of Meisner's sermon in German

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Franz König
Archbishop of Vienna
Succeeded by
Christoph Schönborn
New title Cardinal Priest of Santi Gioacchino ed Anna al Tuscolano
Succeeded by
Keith O'Brien
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