Elbs wants to have an unprejudiced and conciliatory effect in Vaduz

Bishop of Feldkirch on additional tasks as Apostolic Administrator in neighboring diocese: Shaping the transition with Liechtenstein until the appointment of the next archbishop and “building bridges”

Vorarlberg Bishop Benno Elbs, who was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Vaduz by Pope Francis on Wednesday, wants to carry out his additional task “as calmly” and “free from prejudice” as possible. He comes with an attitude of appreciation and respect as well as the willingness to "set reconciliation processes in motion" in the event of hardened discussions, said the Bishop of Feldkirch at a press conference to announce his appointment on Wednesday in Vaduz. The Apostolic Nuncio for Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Archbishop Martin Krebs, was also present together with Elbs.

As interim leader in Vaduz until a successor is appointed for Archbishop Wolfgang Haas (75), who is retired due to his age, he wants to be "a good shepherd for the people who live in Liechtenstein" and "build bridges," said Elbs. For this he is dependent on the cooperation and help of the priests and believers. The bishop stated that his goals were to help the Archdiocese of Vaduz approach each other and treat each other with respect. “Secondly, it is about looking to Christ and listening to him together,” said the Apostolic Administrator. He hopes for “good fellowship.”

Elbs emphasized the close connection between Vorarlberg and Liechtenstein. Feldkirch and Vaduz are only a few minutes apart, which makes his work and communication much easier. Nevertheless, the two dioceses are structured completely differently. The relationships between church and state in Liechtenstein are also very different than in Austria. According to the administrator, he sees the fact that he will bring a little “Austrian perspective” to his additional work as an advantage.

Nuncio Krebs described the papal decision for Elbs as interim leader in Vaduz as the “best of the options available.” There was a lot of speculation, wishes and ideas for the new regulations after Archbishop Haas' age-related resignation, Krebs described. The solution with the Feldkirch bishop was “well thought out”.

According to the Pope's ambassador, there is currently no timetable for the appointment of a new Archbishop of Vaduz. He wants to start preparatory surveys of bishops, priests and laypeople soon for the selection of the candidate, whereby he is counting on the cooperation of many competent people. The Vatican diplomat said that the expected minimum duration for this would be "certainly six months, based on experience."

At the beginning of the press conference, the decree of the Vatican Dicastery for Bishops on the appointment of Elbs as Apostolic Administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" was read out. From now until the day the archbishop, who has yet to be appointed, takes canonical ownership, the bishop of Feldkirch will be given "the rights, faculties and offices which, in accordance with the norms of law, belong to the diocesan bishops," it says.

An Apostolic Administrator leads a diocese until a new bishop is chosen, ordained and officially installed in office. He can be elected by the respective cathedral chapter or the college of consultors, or appointed by the Pope. According to canon law, an administrator is "bound by the duties and has the power of a diocesan bishop" but is not allowed to change anything that would affect the rights of the future bishop. Administrators can also be removed from their duties at any time.