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Symposium about the continuing effects of his œuvre.

On March 14th, the Catholic Social Academy of Austria (KSOE) hosted a symposium in honour of Fr. Johannes Schasching SJ who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year.

As they convened at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, participants were unanimous about the impressive life work of Fr. Johannes Schasching SJ and the importance of preserving his legacy. Schasching was also a papal adviser and is regarded as a pioneer of the Catholic social doctrine. An institute of the Catholic Private University of Linz (KU Linz), a fellowship program of the KSOE and the Industrialists Association. Award for enhancing dialogue between economy, ethics and religion, all bear his name.

Dr.in Christina Plank (Schasching-Fellow der ksoe 2016/17), Provinzial Dr. Bernhard Bürgler (Jesuiten), Dr.in Magdalena M.  Holztrattner M.A. (Leiterin Kath. Sozialakademie Österreichs), Univ.- Prof. Wolfgang Palaver (Universität Innsbruck, Dr. Sebastian Thieme (Schasching-Fellow der ksoe 2015/16), Bischof em. Dr. h.c. Maximilian Aichern OSB, P. Dr. Alois Riedlsperger SJ (Jesuiten)

Well-known catholic journalist and an expert in formation and society for the Industrialists Association Barbara Coudenhove-Kalergi, stressed that “successful enterprises can only grow in a successful society”. Being guided by Fr. Schasching’s principles can be of essential help. The former WER Award, which was renamed Fr. Johannes Schasching Award in 2016, is hence aimed at encouraging young students and scientists to engage in the dialogue between economy and ethics. The award includes a prize money of €7.500 and is conferred biannually.

Fr. Schasching was not a representative of an exclusionist Catholicism, but a humanist, a bridge builder, said Wolfgang Palaver, a Social Ethics Professor from Innsbruck, in his celebratory speech. His efforts towards dialogue are still relevant in present-day interreligious social ethics. Palaver also draw attention to his important influence within the Society of Jesus: in 1979, Schasching carried out a sociological study of the Jesuits emphasizing the commitment to faith and justice, which meant an important “reorientation” of the Society. Back then, Schasching pointed out that the Jesuit order had to take the point of view of the poor and minorities in a much more explicit way.

A closer look at his life helps us understand better the evolution of the Catholic social doctrine, stated the Bishop Emeritus of Linz, Maximilian Aichern. “Fr. Schasching would have been happy with Francis”, his fellow Jesuit at the helm of the Holy See, said the former “social bishop of Austria”.

Martin Bolldorf, former ambassador of Austria to the Holy See, talked about the close relationship he had with Schasching. At the time of his death, a group of mourners at the Viennese Caritas-run restaurant Inigo, concluded: “This cannot stop here!”, and that’s how the Fr. Johannes Schasching Society was born. It grants research scholarships of up to 3 years in Rome, with the aim of continuing Fr. Schasching’s work.

Magdalena Holztrattner, director of KSOE, drew attention to Schasching’s important contribution to the elaboration of the Social Statement of the Churches in Austria.

Christian Spieß, a theologian at KU Linz, presented the newly founded Institute for Christian Social Sciences Johannes Schasching SJ. The institute is also doing research on Fr. Schasching himself, based on his works which were granted to the institute on permanent loan.

Economy has to be fact-based, humane and appropriate for society. This principle of Schasching’s was taken up by the Provincial of the Austrian Jesuits, Fr. Bernhard Bürgler. Happiness and the richness of a society are strongly linked to solidarity within a society and to the security provided by a democratic state.

Fr. Johannes Schasching was born on the 10th of March 1917 in Upper Austria and died on September 20th 2013 in Vienna.

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