Admont Abbey has much to offer. Benedictine monks still live and work here. We are not a mendicant order nor do we rely on the charity of others. Our monks pray and work in pastoral care, in the school and the various institutions of the Abbey. They live in accordance with the Rule of St. Benedict. And, in accordance with this rule, every Benedictine is required to take the traditional monastic vows on entering the order. They must profess oboedientia (obedience), stabilitas loci (willingness to remain part of the community of their particular monastery) and conversatio morum suorum (fidelity to the monastic life), which includes chastity and voluntary poverty.
Admont Abbey is well known for its business acumen. There are also many lay people who are active and work here and run our various commercial enterprises. Together with their personnel, they generate year-on-year the financial resources required by the Abbey to fund all its wide-ranging activities.
But how does the Abbey view possessions and wealth?
Today, the Benedictines of Admont and their secular managers supervise the possessions of the Abbey that it has held since its foundation in 1074, that have been handed down from generation to generation and that have been created over the years. But these possessions are not the personal property of the monks of Admont. They are held for the benefit of all, for the use of the community and for the common good. In accordance with the Social Doctrine of the Church, possessions and capital are used to fulfil a human purpose. Possessions and wealth are thus a natural resource of life and not an end in themselves. We are aware of our responsibilities when it comes to the management and employment of these resources.
Admont Abbey has a long tradition as a centre of culture and a patron of the arts while we also consider contributing towards the development of our local region to be among our tasks, even today. Thanks to our world-renowned and recently renovated library, the new large museum, the school as important educational facility and the various business enterprises of the Abbey that provide employment to more than 500 people, the Abbey acts as a driver of local prosperity. Many profit from this and indirectly benefit from the wealth of the Abbey. Not only are jobs safeguarded, but the many tasks of the Abbey can be financed and continue to be undertaken in future.
Among these tasks are social and charitable activities. Many appeals for help and queries from home and abroad are sent to us at Admont. And thus our capital can be used for genuinely humane purposes. We can provide help in the form of material assistance and donations, allowing the positive side of our wealth to become visible. For possessions must be used to serve life; life should not serve the pursuit of wealth.
At the same time, indiscriminate distribution of our wealth would result in robbing those for whose benefit it can be used of their rights in the long term ‒ simple, spontaneous alms-giving would help nobody over the long run. The use of wealth for social, humane, Christian and cultural reasons ‒ the sustainable and ethical use of wealth ‒ this is a much more legitimate and rewarding strategy that benefits everybody. The stable economic basis of Admont Abbey has ensured that for centuries it has retained its autonomy and has been able to fulfil its various responsibilities; Admont Abbey receives no government grants and does not benefit from the proceeds of the Austrian Church Tax. Admont Abbey itself provides for its own upkeep and activities.
But what about its wealth in terms of its holdings of cultural artefacts? If the Abbey were to donate these elsewhere, it would be released from the obligation to look after them. It would also save the money that needs to be spent on their conservation. But this would represent a significant intellectual and cultural impoverishment and would mean that the Abbey would be divested of its unique identity. The region, the State of Styria and possibly even Austria itself would lose an important part of its cultural heritage while tourism would suffer as a result.