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Inside Salzburg Cathedral | © DomQuartier

The Archbishop of Salzburg

The Archbishop of Salzburg is permitted to use a number of quite extraordinary titles and enjoys a very special status within the Catholic Church. As primas germaniae (since 1648) and legatus natus (since 1179), he is one of the church’s most important dignitaries outside the Vatican.

The "Half"-Pope

“Look, here comes the half-pope”, a famous statement made by Pope Pius IX at the First Vatican Council in 1869, is a clear reflection of Salzburg’s unique status within the church. The privileges which were accorded this former church state can still be seen to this day in the role of the archbishop. As far back as the year 1027, the Salzburg archbishops were permitted to make many decisions within their ecclesiastical province in lieu of the pope. Furthermore, until 1934 they were allowed to name their own bishops to the bishoprics within their domain without obtaining papal consent. The Salzburg Cathedral Chapter also enjoys the right to select the future archbishop from a group of three candidates proposed by the pope. As an outer symbol of their status, the Salzburg archbishops are permitted to wear the legate’s purple, ceremonial dress that is significantly older than the purple robes of the cardinals. The Archbishop of Salzburg is even the only archbishop who is permitted to wear the legate’s purple at the Roman Curia, the church’s administrative body.

The Current Archbishop: Dr. Franz Lackner

Since 2013, Franz Lackner has served as the Archbishop of Salzburg. Born in Styria, he was not ordained as a priest until the age of 35. In fact, once he had finished his compulsory schooling, he began an apprenticeship as an electrician and even served as a United Nations soldier on Cyprus from 1978 until 1979. After returning home, he completed his secondary education at an advanced high school, ultimately entering the Franciscan Order in 1984 and being ordained in 1991. After completing his doctorate at the Antonianium Pontifical University of the Franciscans in Rome, Franz Lackner would go on to teach metaphysics there. In 1999, he was appointed philosophy professor in Vienna. Three years later, he was named Suffragan Bishop of the Graz-Seckau Diocese. On November 18, 2013, Pope Francis confirmed the selection of Franz Lackner as Archbishop of Salzburg.

Franz Lackner is the ninety-first Bishop of Salzburg, the ninetieth successor of Saint Rupert and the seventy-ninth Archbishop.

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