Cardinal Leads First-ever AIDS Day Requiem In Vienna Cathedral

Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

The cardinal-archbishop of Vienna and the openly gay organizer of Europe’s biggest charity event for people with HIV-AIDS have co-hosted the first-ever World AIDS Day memorial service in St Stephen’s Cathedral to remember the some 36 million victims who have died of the disease.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn OP and Gery Keszler – a founder in 1992 of the “Life Ball” charity gala and one of the first persons in Austria to admit contracting the HIV virus – welcomed and prayed with thousands of people who packed the famed Catholic cathedral last Friday evening.

“We are celebrating this memorial service in order to pray for those who have died of AIDS, to comfort the bereaved and to ask God to give those suffering from AIDS strength,” the cardinal told reporters before the service began.

“Compassion is all important in our times. It is the gift to take a closer look and show a willingness to learn,” he said.

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