|Cardinal, Archbishop of Vienna|
|Appointed||19 September 1932|
|Installed||16 October 1932|
|Term ended||9 October 1955|
|Predecessor||Friedrich Gustav Piffl|
|Other posts||Cardinal-Priest of San Crisogono|
|Ordination||25 July 1902|
|Consecration||16 October 1932|
by Enrico Sibilia
|Created cardinal||13 March 1933|
by Pius XI
|Born||25 December 1875|
Neugeschrei-Weipert, Kingdom of Bohemia, Austria-Hungary
|Died||9 December 1955(aged 79)|
|Coat of arms|
Innitzer was born in Neugeschrei (Nové Zvolání), part of the town Weipert (Vejprty) in Bohemia, at that time Austria-Hungary, (now Czech Republic). He was the son of a passamentier Wilhelm Innitzer in Vejprty, House Nr. 362, later a textile factory worker, and his wife Maria born Seidl, daughter of a mining clerk . After completing the minimum mandatory school, Innitzer became an apprentice in a textile factory. The dean of his home parish supported the young Theodor, which allowed him to attend a gymnasium (1890-1892 Communal-Gymnasium), and Staatsgymnasium (1892-1898) in Kaaden.
|Reference style||His Eminence|
|Spoken style||Your Eminence|
Innitzer's role in early 20th century Austrian history remains disputed, because of his involvement in politics. After initially offering support to the Anschluss, Innitzer became a critic of the Nazis and was subject to violent intimidation from them.
This assessment stems from his cooperation with the Austro-fascist government of Engelbert Dollfuß and Kurt Schuschnigg from 1934 to 1938, which based many of its economic and social policies on the teachings of the Catholic Church. He and the other Austrian Catholic bishops signed a declaration endorsing the Anschluss, set up by Gauleiter Josef Bürckel, and signed by Innitzer with "Heil Hitler!". Without the bishops' consent the Nazi regime disseminated this statement throughout the German Reich. Upon hearing of this act, Pope Pius XI ordered Cardinal Innitzer to sign a clarification, which was then published in L'Osservatore Romano.
Vatican Radio had recently broadcast a vehement denunciation of the Nazi action, and Cardinal Pacelli (soon to become Pope Pius XII) ordered Innitzer to report to the Vatican. Before meeting with Pius XI, Innitzer met with Pacelli, who had been outraged by Innitzer's statement. He made it clear that Innitzer needed to retract and was made to sign a new statement, issued on behalf of all the Austrian bishops, which provided: "The solemn declaration of the Austrian bishops... was clearly not intended to be an approval of something that was not and is not compatible with God's law". The Vatican newspaper also reported that the bishops' earlier statement had been issued without the approval of the Holy See, with the fairly neutral Pope Pius XI disagreeing totally with Innitzer.
In the subsequent months Germany had cancelled the concordat between itself and the Holy See and prohibited Church institutions and Catholic newspapers. Following the Anschluss, the Nazi regime proceeded to repress the Catholic Church - arresting clergy, closing schools and institutions. Innitzer protested, at first privately, and later publicly.
In April 1938, in honour of Hitler's birthday, Cardinal Innitzer had ordered that all Austrian churches fly the swastika flag, ring bells, and pray for Hitler. Despite this Innitzer called a day of prayer in the Cathedral of St. Stephen of Vienna for October 7, 1938, which was attended by almost 9,000 parishioners, mostly young people. In the sermon Innitzer declared that "we must confess our faith in our Führer, for there is just one Führer: Jesus Christ", which greatly angered the Nazi leaders: about 100 Nazis, among them many older members of the Hitler Youth, ransacked the archbishop's residence the very next day. In Britain, the Catholic Herald provided the following contemporary account on 14 October 1938:
The invasion was a reply to a courageous sermon the Cardinal had preached in the Cathedral earlier in the evening, in which the Cardinal told his packed congregation that " in the last few months you have lost everything!' This sermon marked the end of Cardinal Innitzer's attempt to establish a religious peace with the Nazis. The attempt has failed. Cardinal Innitzer is now in line with his German brothers openly urging Catholics to resist anti-Catholic measures. [-] Nazi mobs have penetrated into the Archbishop's Palace on St. Stephen's Square in Vienna and have demolished part of the furniture. Other furniture, as well as files and documents were thrown through the windows and set on fire. Hostile cries like "down with the clergy," "send the Cardinal into a concentration camp," "traitor bishop" and so on were heard.
Innitzer's ambiguous relationship with the Nazi regime brought him a lot of criticism after World War II (he was referred to as the "Heil Hitler Cardinal"). During the War Innitzer was critical of the anti-Semitic and racist policies of the Nazis towards the Austrian Jews and also the Catholic gypsies of the Austrian countryside.
He openly, though moderately, supported the war effort against the Soviet Union, however. Years before, he had campaigned against Soviet policies. In 1933, based on data collected by undercover investigation and photographs, Innitzer sought to raise awareness in the West of the many deaths by hunger and even cases of cannibalism that were occurring in the Ukraine and the North Caucasus at that time.
Theodor Cardinal Innitzer died in Vienna, Austria on 9 October 1955.
The Archdiocese of Vienna annually awards the Kardinal-Innitzer-Preis to scientists and scholars, which is named in honor of Innitzer.