Schönborn: Renewal of Christian Legacy (ENGLISH)
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn spoke in no uncertain terms of the loss of Europe's christian heritage during his homily on the occasion of the "Holy Name of Mary Celebration" in St. Stephen's Cathedral on the 11th of September 2016. This has been misinterpreted on social media as an attack against Muslims and even as directed against the refugees.
The Situation of Europe
The starting point of Cardinal Schönborn's homily was the parable of the prodigal son, who squandered his father's inheritance. Striking a parallel to the current situation of Europe, the Cardinal said, "We are a little bit like him. We have dissipated the inheritance, we have squandered our Christian heritage, we have thrown it away. And now we are astonished that Europe looks as it looks..., wherever we turn we are experiencing need, we are falling into want. Not only in the sphere of economics... but above all humanly speaking and in the sphere of religion and faith. What will become of Europe?"
We ourselves are therefore those that have brought the Christian inheritance of Europe into peril. It is true that Islamism could benefit from this, for according to Schönborn, "Will there be a third Islamic attempt to conquer Europe? Many Muslims think this and wish this and say that Europe is at its end."
Remembering the Christian Legacy
Yet according to Schönborn, hope is to be found in the mercy of God: "This is what we ask for Europe today: Lord, give us another chance! Do not forget that we are your people. As Moses reminds him that it is YOUR people. YOU have led it out of slavery, YOU have sanctified it, it is YOUR people. Hence we ask: Lord, remember, it is YOUR people. And when we have gone wayward and have squandered the inheritance, Lord, do not cast us away! Do not repudiate this Europe, which has brought forth so many saints. Do not abandon us, because we have become so mediocre in our faith."
It is not a matter of a defense against Refugees
This context makes it clear that the Cardinal was not championing a sort of defensive battle, defending Christian values against Islam. Cardinal Schönborn offered the official Newspaper of the Archdiocese of Vienna, "der Sonntag" ("the Sunday"), the following clarification: "Europe's Christian legacy is in danger, because we Europeans have squandered it. That has absolutely nothing to do with Islam nor with the refugees. It is clear that many Islamists would like to take advantage of our weakness, but they are not responsible for it. We are."
The Cardinal makes clear: "One must not take my homily to be a call to defend ourselves against the refugees, this was not at all my intention. The opportunity for a Christian renewal of Europe lies in our hands: if we look at and come to Christ, spread his gospel and deal with our fellow men, strangers included, as he has taught us, in love and responsibility."