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BRUNNER, SEBASTIAN:

Austrian Catholic theologian, editor, and anti-Jewish writer; born Dec. 10, 1814, in Vienna; died in Währing, near Vienna, Nov. 26, 1893. He was ordained as priest in 1838, and after officiating in various parts of the diocese of Vienna, was employed by Metternich (1843-48) in arranging all reports on religious and political movements that came into the minister's office. In 1846 he was sent by the chancellor to France and Germany to report the situation in those countries.

Brunner founded in 1848 the "Wiener Katholische Kirchenzeitung," which he edited until 1865, making himself notorious by his rabid attacks in its columns on Jews and Judaism. Citing the actions of David and Elijah, he insisted that the Old Testament was permeated by a spirit of vindictiveness, and for this reason he maintained that the Jewish morals endangered those of the Christian neighbors of Jews ("Kirchenzeitung," 1860, p. 12). For a long time the Jews ignored his denunciations; but finally, in 1860, Ignaz Kuranda, editor and publisher of the "Ostdeutsche Post," took up the cause of his coreligionists, calling attention to the fact (Jan. 28, 1860) that Brunner's attacks were for the most part mere repetitions of the charges made by Eisenmenger and Pfefferkorn, and that, moreover, they were undertaken by Brunner not in a spirit of zeal for the Church, but in the hope of increasing the circulation of his paper.

Brunner sued Kuranda for libel April 27, 1860; but on trial the latter was acquitted as having sustained every item of his charges against Brunner, who in addition was severely rebuked by the presiding judge for conduct unbecoming a priest. The importance which the Jews attached to the result of the trial may be seen from the fact that a stenographic account of its proceedings was printed in pamphlet form in both Hebrew and German for the purpose of commemorating Kuranda's victory over Brunner.

Brunner held several high offices in the Catholic Church.

Bibliography:
  • Meyer, Konversations-Lexikon, 5th ed., vol. iii.:
  • La Grande Encyclopédie, vol. viii.;
  • David Gordon, Milḥemet ha-Ḥoshek we-ha-Or.
D. A. R.
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