Latest News

Nuncio ‘ashamed’ at Church opposition to crosses on state buildings

Archbishop Peter Zurbriggen (right) speaks with the then-Austrian Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger in 2013 (Wikimedia Commons)

The Austrian nuncio has strongly criticised German priests and bishops who objected to the Bavarian government hanging crosses in public buildings.

During a lecture at Heiligenkreuz Abbey, Archbishop Peter Zurbriggen – the Swiss-born Apostolic Nuncio to Austria – said the reaction of some clergy to the policy was “not acceptable”, although he did not refer to anyone by name.

“As Nuncio and representative of the Holy Father, I am saddened and ashamed that – when crosses are erected in a neighbouring country– it is precisely the bishops and priests who criticise this decision. What a shame! This is not acceptable.”

His comments come after Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the President of the German Bishops’ Conference, condemned the Bavarian government. The decision to display crosses in government buildings would cause “division” and “play people off against one another”, he said.

“If the cross is just seen as a cultural symbol, then it has not been understood”, the Cardinal said, adding that the cross is “a sign of opposition to violence, injustice, sin and death, but not a sign [of exclusion] against other people.”

Another Bavarian bishop praised the decision, however. “The cross is the epitome of Western culture. It is the expression of a culture of love, compassion and affirmation of life. It belongs to the foundations of Europe,” Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg said.

“It should be widely visible, the cross, the sign of salvation and life in which Christ is heaven and earth, God and reconciled people, victims and perpetrators,” he added.