Vienna Cathedral expands vaccination campaign

02-12-2021

Central Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

St. Stephen's Cathedral has been the place for vaccination since last summer. Photo AFP, Alex Halada

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria, expands the vaccination campaign in the building due to the enormous demand. From next week, all seven days will be used to vaccinate against corona. Until now, it was only four days. In the church, however, critical voices against vaccination are also heard.

Austria has a lockdown for unvaccinated people since half November. During that lockdown, the government announced to go for compulsory vaccination from early next year. This all leads to more people who go for an immunisation.

The campaign is coordinated by the Malteser Hospital Service and the Johanniter group on behalf of the cathedral parish.

According to the news portal Katholish.de, the interest was massive. Only in November, more than 10,000 vaccines had been administered.

Cathedral pastor Toni Faber says that the building has a perfect "framework for the vaccination". That might have stimulated the interest. But he has been insulted as well. "That hurts, but I don't want to be sorry, because we have to go through there. There is no alternative."

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Dompfarrer Toni Faber. Photo Dompfarre, Suzy Stöckl

Earlier, Mr Faber has said that he had "no sympathy" for those who choose not to vaccinate.

In several cities in Germany and Austria, churches are used for vaccination against corona.

Hygiene replaced pastoral care

Within the Catholic church, there are also critical voices. The secretary of the former Pope Benedict XVI, Georg Gänswein, condemns the German church province for being "overly loyal to the state during the crisis. He thinks that the "hygiene regulations have replaced pastoral care."

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Archbishop Georg Gänswein. Photo EPA, Uwe Moosburger

Gänswein himself is a German archbishop who works in the Vatican. He has been vaccinated himself trice, "out of conviction". But he warns not to "raise the question of vaccination to the level of faith", he says. "If the welfare of the body is placed above the salvation of the soul, and that was not just my impression, then something is wrong."

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