Old Catholic Church in Austria, separation from the Roman Catholic church in reaction to the dogma of the Infallibility of the Pope in the First Vatican Council of 1870. Arose from the "Aktionskomitee" (Action Committee) formed by K. Lindner in Vienna in 1871 and a community in Ried im Innkreis (Upper Austria), recognised by the government in 1877. At its 1st synod in 1879, the obligations to penance, fasting and celibacy were abolished and the German language was introduced as the language of the Liturgy, then in 1883 the celebration of Holy Communion in both species. In 1896 the seat of the diocese was moved from Vienna to Warnsdorf (Bohemia). In 1918 A. Schindelar became head of the Church in Vienna and was consecrated as the 1st Old Catholic bishop in Austria in 1925. The number of Old Catholics in Austria (1881: 6,000) grew very quickly because of the Los-von-Rom-Bewegung after 1898. After Germany had occupied Austria, membership of the Church reached its peak in 1939 (45,000); in 1997 it had around 20,000 members in 12 parishes (6 in Vienna, 2 in Lower Austria, 1 each in Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia and Upper Austria). In 1980 the Church passed a new constitution, under which the Church is headed by the bishop (at present B. Heitz), the synodal council and the synod. Since 1992 women have been allowed to serve as deacons and since 1997 may also be ordained (first ordination of a woman in 1998).
Further reading#S. Zankl, Geschichte der Altkatholischen Kirche Oe., Oesterreichisches Archiv fuer Kirchenrecht 31, 1980.