His Excellency Bishop Andreas Laun richly deserves to receive HLI’s Cardinal von Galen Award which recognizes courageous leadership against the culture of death. We bestow it on him for his frequent and dignified defense of the Church’s teachings on respect for human life and sexual morality. Both his academic gifts and personal warmth have served the cause of innocent human life in a tremendous witness for us all.
An incident from earlier this year exemplifies his strong leadership. Bishop Laun responded to a question in an interview by frankly affirming that an Austrian businessman, Richard Lugner, had excommunicated himself by formally cooperating in the sin of abortion. Lugner had said that he was still a Catholic despite willingly renting office space to an abortion mill in the mall he owned. Bishop Laun was immediately attacked by liberals for being willing to explain and defend the Church’s discipline in this case, but he stood firm and used the press attention as a teaching moment to highlight the call to conversion. The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, praised Laun’s statements and added; “The destruction of life must not be made banal and viewed like a shopping trip.”
Andreas Laun was ordained a priest of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in 1967. He has served as auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Salzburg, Austria since Pope John Paul II chose him for this ministry in 1995. His training as a moral theologian was crowned in 1981 with a post-doctoral “habilitation” from the University of Vienna, and he was a professor before being ordained a bishop. In recognition of his intellectual contributions to Catholic Moral Theology, the Pontifical Academy for Life has invited him to lecture at their international meetings. Currently he is in charge of pastoral care for families in the Archdiocese of Salzburg and is preparing textbooks for religious education. Laun’s Catholic formation was also influenced by friendship with the philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand, and he has contributed writings and his support to the Hildebrand Legacy Project.
His academic writings include works on many spiritual topics. In the pro-life arena, he wrote an insightful book on the problem of homosexuality and another addressing modern questions of moral theology. Bishop Laun also comments frequently on current events. He condemned the euthanasia law in The Netherlands and the false premises of militant homosexuality numerous times despite the unpopularity of the orthodox Catholic position. Never one to allow the Church to be slandered, Bishop Laun also published articles defending Pope Pius XII’s actions during World War II.
We were very pleased to have Bishop Laun speak at the Fatima pro-life congress organized by HLI Austria in October 2006. Salzburg and Austria are blessed to have such inspired orthodoxy in their Catholic leaders. We pray that the Lord will continue to strengthen Bishop Laun and that many more good shepherds like him will be sent to guide the Catholic faithful around the world.