Johannes Maria Gföllner

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Bishop Johannes Maria Gföllner
Double coat of arms of the Bishop of Linz (1915–1941)
Johannes Maria Gföllner as theology professor, 1907
Memorial plaque on the parish church of Waizenkirchen

Johannes Evangelist Maria Gföllner (born December 17, 1867 in Waizenkirchen , Austria-Hungary , † June 3, 1941 in Linz ) was Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Linz from 1915 to 1941 .


Johannes Maria Gföllner entered the boys' seminar on the Freinberg in Linz in 1879 . He was a graduate of the Collegium Germanicum in Rome and studied from 1887 to 1894 at the Pontifical Gregorian University . In 1890 he was promoted to Dr. phil. and in 1894 Dr. theol. PhD . He was ordained a priest on October 28, 1893.

In 1894/1895 he was chaplain in Mattighofen , then until 1896 prince tutor to Archduke Karl Stephan of Austria , in Pola (Pula) and until 1897 chaplain in Wels . He was then a professor of religion and spiritual in the Kollegium Petrinum (boys' seminar). From February 1, 1910, Gföllner was professor of pastoral theology in Linz. In 1911 he became editor of the theological-practical quarterly and in 1913 editor-in-chief. On July 16, 1915, Emperor Franz Joseph appointed him Bishop of Linz. He was ordained bishop on October 18, 1915 by Cardinal Friedrich Gustav Piffl .

Even after the end of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1918, he felt like a prince of the church and thought little of the parties of the newly formed Republic of German Austria .

Under his leadership, the construction of the Cathedral of Mary in Linz, begun by Bishop Franz Joseph Rudigier , was completed in 1924 . The solemn consecration of the new cathedral church took place on April 29, 1924. In 1928 he called a diocesan synod .

Politically, he no longer supported the Catholic People's Association (the Christian Social Party in Upper Austria) and in 1933 removed the political priests E. Hirsch and J. Pfeneberger from the state government and J. Moser from the Federal Council. By integrating the Catholic People's Association into the Catholic Action , he promoted the dissolution of the parties under Engelbert Dollfuss .

In January 1933, shortly before Hitler came to power in the German Reich , he wrote a pastoral letter about the true and false nationalism that he allowed to spread in his diocese. The Austrian Bishops' Conference did not support this pastoral letter. In it he rejected the National Socialist race doctrine as incompatible with Christianity . He wrote that it was impossible to be a good Catholic and a real National Socialist at the same time . At the same time, however, the pastoral letter reveals the ambivalence of the Catholic position. Gföllner distinguished on the one hand between the blind hatred of all Jews, as well as the Jewish religion and the targeted rejection of Jews who abandoned their religion, adapted themselves to the zeitgeist and felt drawn to communism. In the same pastoral letter it also said:

“The Jewish, international world spirit is different from the Jewish people and from the Jewish religion. Undoubtedly, many alienated Jews exercised an exceedingly harmful influence in almost every field. The press, theater and cinema - mainly nourished by Jews - poisoned the Christian folk soul with cynical tendencies. [...] In earlier times, especially in Italian cities, the Jewish population was assigned a residential area of ​​their own, a so-called ghetto, in order to banish the Jewish spirit and influence as much as possible; The modern times do not need to expel the Jews from the country, but should erect a strong dam in legislation and administration against all the spiritual rubbish and the immoral flood of mud that threatens to inundate the world mainly from Judaism. "

Gföllner was also the author of the pastoral letter of the Austrian bishops about National Socialism of December 21, 1933. He had to take note of Austria's annexation to the German Reich in 1938. But when Adolf Hitler visited the Mariendom in Linz in April 1938, Bishop Gföllner was represented by a cathedral chapter, Prelate Karl Schöfecker. In July 1938, by refusing to sign, the bishop prevented a kind of concordat between the Austrian Church and the National Socialists from being concluded.

Shortly before his death he was able to secure the appointment of Josephus Calasanz Fließer as auxiliary bishop and appointed him three days before his death as vicar general . Bishop Gföllner is buried in the crypt of the New Cathedral in Linz.

Episcopal coat of arms

  • The first coat of arms shows a golden cloverleaf cross growing out of the dividing line at the front, half-divided and split by blue, red and silver; below two silver stakes. At the back a blue bar, accompanied by three blue 2: 1 set flax flowers with golden clusters. This is the diocesan coat of arms of Linz.
  • The second coat of arms at the bottom, half-divided and split by blue and gold, shows a black, gold-armored and nimbly seated eagle with half-raised wings and a white goose quill in its beak, the symbol of the evangelist John the patron saint. Down in front a golden, erect, fire-spraying panther on a blue background; in the back on a green lawn through which a golden path meanders, a whitewashed church with a golden gate and black window openings as well as golden crosses with knobs on the red pointed roof of the tower on the right and the red tent roof of the nave. This is the coat of arms of his place of birth Waizenkirchen.

Behind the heraldic shields the golden cross with miter and bishop's staff, above the green galero with six green tassels each hanging down.

His motto Haec est victoria, quae vincit mundum, fides nostra ("This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith") comes from the 1st letter of John ( 1 Jn 5,4  EU )


  • Commemorative sheets for the 50th golden jubilee of the Marian Congregation in the Collegium Petrinum on December 8, 1903 . Marian Congregation, Linz 1903
  • Pastoral letter on true and false nationalism . Catholic Press Association 1933


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Anschluss in 1938 and the position of Bishop Johannes Maria Gföllner of Linz. Archived from the original on December 16, 2013 ; Retrieved December 13, 2013 .
  2. Rudolf Ardelt , Herbert Erich Baumert: The coat of arms of the Linz bishops. In: Historisches Jahrbuch der Stadt Linz 1981. Linz 1982, pp. 71-109 ( online (PDF) in the forum
predecessor Office successor
Rudolph Hittmair Bishop of Linz
Josephus Calasanz Fließer