fkoenig.jpgCardinal Franz Köenig, the longtime Roman Catholic archbishop of Vienna, died on March 13. Cause of death was not released. He was 98.
Köenig attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and studied old Persian languages and religion at its Bible Institute. He earned doctorate degrees in philosophy and theology, and was ordained as a priest in 1933. During World War II, Köenig worked as a chaplain and teacher.
The author of the three-volume collection, “Christ and the Earth’s Religions,” Köenig spent the 1950s becoming an influential player in the Catholic Church. He served as Vienna’s archbishop for two years before Pope John XXIII elevated him to cardinal in 1958.
Köenig then became a respected church diplomat in countries behind the former Iron Curtain. From 1966 to 1981, he was the president of the papal Secretariat for Non-Believers, and played a key role in the preparations for the Second Vatican Council. Although he was twice considered a candidate for pope, Köenig instead facilitated the 1978 papal nomination of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. Now known as Pope John Paul II, Wojtyla was the first non-Italian pope in more than four centuries.
Köenig served as archbishop of Vienna until his retirement in 1985. He was replaced by Hans Hermann Groer, who later resigned in disgrace amid allegations he molested boys in the 1970s. Groer died last year.