Austrian cardinal warns of 'Islamic conquest' of Europe
The Local · 13 Sep 2016, 14:48
Published: 13 Sep 2016 14:48 GMT+02:00
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Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn made the warning on Sunday during the church festival "Holy Name of Mary", which was first introduced 333 years ago in gratitude for the victory over the Ottomans in the Battle of Vienna.
According to the Archdiocese of Vienna, the cardinal said: "Will there be an Islamic conquest of Europe? Many Muslims want that and say: Europe is at the end."
He asked God to have mercy on Europe and to show mercy to its people, which he said "are in danger of forfeiting our Christian heritage".
Schönborn explained that people could already feel this loss, "not only economically, but above all, in human and religious matters".
The cardinal's statement came as many places across Austria commemorated the 333rd anniversary of the Battle of Vienna. During the battle on 11-12th September 1683, combined Christian forces defeated over 100,000 soldiers from the Ottoman Empire.
The battle was fought by the Habsburg Monarchy, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire against the invading Muslim Ottoman Empire. Polish King John III Sobieski famously commanded the Christian army toward its victory.
The Ottoman soldiers had already started to take the Austrian capital Vienna which was defended by only 10,000 Habsburg soldiers when Polish horsemen attacked them from the rear and devastated the Turkish army – which was forced to retreat.
The battle is often seen as a turning point in history, which slowly led to the decline of the Ottoman Empire.
The Catholic Church in Austria was not the only one to commemorate the event. The far-right Austrian Freedom Party held a controversial event, stressing the need to defend the "Western World" from invaders.
The event was held at Vienna's Palais Ferstl, and included an opening speech by Vienna’s Vice-Mayor Johann Gudenus and speeches by Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache, as well as historian and university professor Dr Lothar Hobelt.
The commemorations come at a time of heightened tensions between Austria and Turkey, the modern Republic which succeeded the Ottoman Empire after its final collapse.
After the recent failed coup attempt in Turkey, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz warned he will stop any move that brings Turkey closer to joining the European Union.
Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern even went so far as to say: "The membership negotiations are currently no more than fiction."
As a result Turkey recalled its ambassador to Austria and accused the country of being supportive of terrorism and a centre of Islamophobia. The two countries' relations have sharply deteriorated since those events.
The cardinal has often been listed as one of the most likely candidates to take over the position of Pope, although in previous elections he was deemed too young.
Story courtesy of Central European News.