Catholic Church: a legally recognised Christian Church in Austria. The provisions of the Concordat of 1933/34, which determines the legal relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the State, were amended and added to after 1946. According to the law on the Church Ratea major part of the expenses of the Catholic church is met from church tax revenues. The Catholic Church has two Church Provinces (Archdioceses): Vienna and Salzburg with a total of 9 Dioceses and a military ordinariate. The dioceses are headed by bishops who are members of the Conference of Bishops , a permanent institution in charge of pastoral tasks. The abbot of the Cistercian abbey Mehrerau in Vorarlberg also holds the rank of a bishop ("Abtei nullius"). The dioceses are subdivided into 230 deaneries and according to statistics from 1998, there are 3,048 parishes including the military ordinariate, 49 quasi -parishes and 759 other Catholic institutions of pastoral care. The number of Austrian Catholics is currently 5,921,064. The secular clergy has 2,926 priests and there are 1,821 priests who are members of religious orders (Monasteries and orders). 375 deacons work permanently in pastoral care. The number of lay people in the employ of the church is currently growing (mostly teachers of religion and pastoral assistants). About 10,000 teachers of religion are working in Austrian schools. The Catholic Church not only owns private schools but also homes, colleges and kindergartens. Courses provided by the Catholic Adult Education Institutions have found broad public acclaim. Students preparing for the priesthood and lay theologians attend the Faculties of Theology of the Universities of Vienna, Graz, Innsbruck and Salzburg, the Theological Colleges at Linz, St. Pölten and St. Gabriel/Mödling and the Cistercian Order´s University at Heiligenkreuz and Klosterneuburg; students who want to become teachers of religion study at the pedagogical academies of the dioceses (Vienna, Graz, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Klagenfurt, Linz) or at the universities.During Nazi rule all Catholic organisations and associations were dissolved. After 1945 the work of the lay apostolate became more and more important. Lay organisations assume their tasks mainly in the form of the Austrian Catholic Actionwhich was re-established in 1945 and which is characterized by many "Works" and Catholic associations, which in turn form the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Katholischer Verbände in 1954. Independent charismatic movements and newly established groups within the church devoted to religious and apostolic tasks have recently gained considerable ground: Action 365, Cursillo Movement, Legio Mariae, Christian Life Communities, Charismatische Gemeindeerneuerung, Katholischer Familienverband, Marianist Congregations and the Rosary Atonement Crusade for Peace. In 1970 the Austrian Laienrat (Lay Council) was founded; it comprises all organisations of the Austrian Catholic Action, all associations of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Katholischer Verbände and all other Catholic associations as well as representatives of the dioceses and individuals. Important institutions and centres of the Catholic Church are the Catholic Academy and the Catholic Social Academy in Vienna, correspondence courses in theology (Vienna and Linz), the Institute of Social Research on Church Matters, the Institute for International Cooperation, the Austrian Service for Development Cooperation, the ecumenical endowment Pro Oriente and the Katholische Bildungswerke.
Like other Catholic institutions, the Catholic Press had to be completely reorganised after 1945. Side by side with diocesan and parish journals, there are a number of newspapers: e.g. "Die Furche", "Präsent", as well as Catholic magazines and periodicals (published by Styria Medien AG, Tyrolia Verlagsanstalt GmbH, Carinthia, Salzburger Pressvereinsbetriebe, Niederösterreichisches Pressehaus, Bregenzer Zeitungs- und Verlagsgesellschaft, which are members of the Austrian association of Catholic publishers of newspapers and magazines).
History: The Christianisation of Austria took place gradually. After Christianity, Early in Roman times the °Christianisation of the Bavarians took place at the end of the 7th and the beginning of the 8th century under Frankish influence, as well as by Irish and Scottish monks and Anglo-Saxon missionaries. The church organisation established by Bonifatius also had an influence on the Church in Austria (dioceses Salzburg, Passau); under Frankish rule in the 9th century churches were strengthened and the Alpine Slavs were integrated. From the 10th century local church organisation was established and parishes were formed in castle districts and later, in connection with larger settlements. The founding of monasteries, which began in the 11th century, was an important step in the history of the Church in Austria. In the Middle Ages the Church not only took over intellectual and spiritual leadership but also greatly influenced the development of cultural life, architecture (churches and monasteries), painting, literature and music and was responsible for economic progress, education and social care (schools and hospitals).
The growing importance of Lutheranism (Reformation) in the 16th century led to a severe crisis in the Catholic Church in Austria. A reform movement was introduced around 1550 to meet this new threat, forming the basis for what was called the Counter-Reformation and which was initiated by the Habsburgs from 1580. By the mid-17th century (in Salzburg only during the 18th century), the Counter-Reformation had resulted in Austria being reconverted to Catholicism and an increase in Catholic activity and institutions (pilgrimages, building of churches, monuments and other large buildings). Reaction under the influence of the Age of Enlightenment set in under Maria Theresia and in particular under her son Joseph II; by 1790, the number of monasteries was reduced to one half while the parish system was strengthened and new dioceses established. At the end of the 18th century the tendency favouring establishment of the Catholic Church as a state Church met with the opposition of the Catholic renewal movement in Vienna (C. M. Hofbauer). On the other hand many liberal intellectuals had developed a critical attitude towards the Catholic church, which was intensified by the Concordat of 1855. When liberalism and Marxism developed in the second half of the 19th century, times became particularly difficult for the Catholic Church, which reacted by establishing counter-movements (political Catholicism, (Christian Social Doctrine) which in turn led to the foundation of the Christian Social Party and at the same time strengthened church life (Catholic organisations). By the turn of the century the Catholic Church in Austria increasingly paid attention to social matters and began to focus on cultural and intellectual questions. The First Republic witnessed the great struggles of Roman Catholicism with the Austrian Social Democrats as many Social Democrats left the Catholic Church (Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs) and with rejection by the supporters of National Socialism. In 1938 the Nazis greatly restricted the influence and power of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church´s activities were more or less reduced to the celebration of services and it was no longer allowed to play a role in education, culture and social care. After the end of World War II in1945 the Catholic Church witnessed a strong but rather short revival; currently it is confronted with many problems and the general secularisation of life. In the 1990s the clergy, members of religious orders and committed laypeople in different Catholic groups strengthened their efforts towards a gradual modernization of the church. They initiated a Church Referendum (exemplary for similar efforts in Germany and the United States) which led to the "Dialogue for Austria" (Dialog für Österreich) but has not resulted in any definite changes so far.
Literature: J. Wodka, Kirche in Österreich, 1959; F. Klostermann et al., Kirche in Österreich 1918-65, 1966; F. Loidl, Geschichte des Erzbistums Wien, 1983; F. Schragel, Geschichte der Diözese St. Pölten, 1985; J. Gelmi, Kirchengeschichte Tirols, 1986; H. Paarhammer (ed.), Kirchliches Finanzwesen in Österreich, 1989; H. Schwendenwein, Österreichisches Staatskirchenrecht, 1992; Die katholische Kirche in Österreich, almanac 1992; K. Amon and M. Liebmann, Kirchengeschichte der Steiermark, 1993; J. Lenzenweger et al. (eds.), Geschichte der katholischen Kirche, 31995; M. Liebmann et al. (eds.), Staat und Kirche in der "Ostmark", 1998.