Innitzer, Theodore

(1875–1955)
   Archbishop of Vienna from 1932 to 1955 and a cardinal from 1933, Innitzer had a long scholarly career behind him when he assumed those offices. In 1911, he became a professor of New Testament exegesis at the University of Vienna, where he also functioned as its rector in 1928–1929. He also served as minister for social affairs (1929–1930) in a government that generally favored middle-class interests. Here Innitzer was a spokesman for low-income pensioners.
   Innitzer was generally a supporter of the Austro-Fascist regimes of Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg. On 18 March 1938, with Adolf Hitler’s takeover of Austria an accomplished fact, Innitzer and other Austrian bishops presented a declaration of loyalty to the new regime. They thought that such an action would preserve the position of the church. Meeting with Hitler, Innitzer received assurances from the Nazi dictator that the Catholic role in Austrian education would continue.
   These hopes faded quickly. On 8 October1938, bands of the Hitler Youth and Austrian Sturmabteilung (SA) broke into the archbishop’s palace in Vienna. Innitzer shifted his approach somewhat, establishing an agency to help “Non-Aryan Catholics” even during the Nazi dictatorship in Austria. Following the end of World War II, he reestablished the Austrian Catholic Academy and worked to increase the role of the laity in the church.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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