Cardinal Schönborn of Austria is one of the most respected voices in the Church today. In a recent interview, he said out his opinion on the major issues of European politics today such as the Muslim invasion of Europe, the apostasy of the European people, religious freedom, refugees, Brexit, and American President Elect Donald Trump:
When asked the question “Will Islam conquer Europe?”
The cardinal, once considered in the running as a possible Pope or “papabile”, said: “When we see that the mosques are well visited and the churches are badly visited, we can not blame Muslims for wanting to Islamise Europe. But we must reproach ourselves for not doing enough to maintain a Christian Europe.”
He said that as a Christian, he would like the Middle East to become Christian again, as it once was
“Of course I wish this because I believe that Christianity is not only my personal religion, but a religion that is a good religion despite all the mistakes that have happened. So I can not blame the Muslims if they want Europe to become Islamic. That’s not my problem.”
He said that of course he did not wish St Stephen’s Cathedral to become St Stephen’s Mosque.
“Of course, I wish that the St. Stephan’s Cathedral remains a living Christian house of God, a place of prayer and not just a tourist attraction for five million tourists a year.
On apostasy and the selling of the churches:
It is not Muslims’ fault if Europe is being de-Christianised, the cardinal added.
“But we already have 200 Islamic places of prayer in Vienna. We have mosques in cathedrals in Spain, and we have, for example, in Damascus, the cathedral, where John the Baptist is now a mosque, and we have Hindu temples in India, which were formerly mosques, and vice versa .
“Fear of the Islamisation of Europe is nonsensical if one does not contribute something to the fact that Europe remains Christian. But, of course, if a church is sold in the Netherlands and transformed into a supermarket, when the supermarkets are more important to us than the Christian roots of Europe, we must not be surprised that Europe de-Christianises. But it is not the fault of the Muslims.“
On religious freedom:
“That religions are in competition with each other is as old as the world. I am pleased that Muslims can freely exercise their religion with us, but I also wish that Christians in Saudi Arabia were able to practise their religion freely, and in other Muslim majority countries.”
The key issue Austria is facing is the integration of refugees, the cardinal said.
Some refugees abuse Austria’s hospitality and become criminal. “Where does tolerance, mercy, charity end? There, where it also ends for Austrian citizens. Crime is crime. And as with the people of Austria, there are also among the refugees those who abuse social benefits. But it would not be right to conclude that all refugees do this.”
Schönborn also said Brexit was “unfortunate” because “European cohesion is incomparably better than the European antagonism we have suffered for centuries.”
On President Trump:
And he urged the world not to rush to judgement against Donald Trump before giving him a chance to show what he can do.
There were also shaking of heads when Ronald Reagan was elected but Reagan was one of the best presidents the US ever had, he said.
“So you should not judge rashly. This applies to Trump and that applies to everything.”