Cardinal Christoph Schönborn
The Archbishop of Vienna has congratulated bearded drag star Conchita Wurst, performed by 25-year-old Austrian Thomas Neuwirth, who recently won the Eurovision Song Contest, becoming an international phenomenon.
According to The Tablet, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn told Kathpress that he is “glad that Tom Neuwirth had such success with his artistic creation Conchita Wurst and I will pray for him.”
The clergyman went on to say: “As we all know, there is multicoloured variety in God’s garden. Not everyone who is born male feels he is a man and the same applies to women.
“Such people deserve the same respect that we all have a right to as human beings,” he added.
Schönborn said that the issue of tolerance was a “very real and major issue,” noting that this means “respecting someone even if one does not share his or her views.”
In 2012, Schönborn reinstated a young gay man in a same-sex partnership whose election to a pastoral council in Vienna was vetoed by the parish priest.
Despite this, and his seemingly enlightened views on the drag persona created by Neuwirth (who identifies as a gay man not as transgender), the cardinal has previously said that homosexuals must be helped to see that “their relationship is not God’s plan.”
Wurst won the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this month in Copenhagen with her dramatic track Rise Like a Phoenix.
While Pope Francis has hinted at an apparent willingness to be more accepting of gay people, the Catholic Church remains vehemently opposed to same-sex relationships and marriage and considers homosexuality sinful and unnatural.