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Austrian report Austrian report
by Euro Reporter
2010-07-10 09:59:05
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Bishop nomination is Vatican's demonstration of power

The appointment of Ägidius Zsifkovics as new bishop of the Eisenstadt diocese has been branded a "reckless demonstration of power by the Vatican." Theologian Paul Zulehner said he was "disappointed" to hear of today’s (Fri) decision of the Austrian Roman Catholic Church to make Zsifkovics the successor of Paul Iby. "I don’t think he will be accepted by a majority of believers," he said. Zulehner added: "This decision is a missed chance."

Independent platform "Wir sind Kirche" (We are the Church) claimed the Catholic Church ignored "several more capable candidates". Its head Hans Peter Hurka said he expected this decision to further increase the already soaring "departure figures". More than 30,000 Austrians left the Church in the first three months of this year, up by 42 per cent compared to the same time span of 2009 when more people than ever cancelled their membership.

Research has shown that people are outraged over the Church’s reluctant reaction to hundreds of alleged violent and sexual abuses by clergy. Hurka said Zsifkovics was an "ideal enforcer" of the Vatican’s decisions, adding that the secluded way the Church named its bishops was "not acceptable". The Austrian Lay Initiative labelled the 47-year-old’s nomination "another reckless demonstration of power by the Vatican which must not be accepted". Iby is regarded as a spearhead of the Austrian Catholic’s moderate block, while Güssing-born Zsifkovics has been described as extremely conservative with strong links to backward-looking decision-makers in the Vatican.


New trial ahead for convicted Holocaust denier Honsik

Infamous Holocaust denier Gerd Honsik is facing another trial after judges slashed his term earlier this year. Vienna prosecutors said they were considering pressing charges against the Austrian over the content of two of his books which they believe break the country’s strict anti-Nazi laws.

Honsik was sentenced to five years in jail over spreading far-right ideology in his magazine "Halt!" before Vienna’s Higher Regional Court (OLG) reduced his prison term to four years last March.

The 68-year-old was convicted of breaking laws against spreading Nazi ideology in his book "Freispruch für Hitler?" (Acquittal for Hitler?) and sentenced to a year and a half in prison in 1992, but fled to Spain, where he gained a reputation as a leading far-right publicist.


Pensioner fined for gold-smuggling attempt

A German pensioner has been fined for trying to smuggle pure gold worth half a million Euros from Switzerland via Austria into his homeland. Vorarlberg custom officials said today (Fri) the man was ordered to pay 35,000 Euros over the incident last April, but added he had been allowed to keep the valuables.

The 69-year-old claimed he only had around 700 Euros and some Swiss Francs with him when he was stopped during a random check at the Swiss-Austrian border. Officers however discovered 17.5 kilos of gold bars and coins worth around 500,000 Euros in the boot of his vehicle.

Travellers have to inform custom police if they transfer valuables worth more than 10,000 Euros over the border. The Stuttgart resident told authorities he bought the gold after accepting an inheritance. The retired man explained his plan was to sell the bullion and coins at a higher price to enhance his meagre pension.

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