Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has warned that Europe risks forfeiting its “Christian inheritance” and that an “Islamic conquest” could be in its future.
Speaking in the Cathedral of Vienna on Sunday, Sept. 11, the Archbishop of Vienna referenced the feast day that commemorates the decisive victory of a Christian coalition over the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Vienna in 1683.
“On this day, 333 years ago, Vienna was saved,” he said. “Will there now be a third attempt at an Islamic conquest of Europe? Many Muslims think so and long for it and say: This Europe is at an end.”
“And I think that we should ask for Europe what Moses does in the reading of today and what God the Merciful does for the younger son: Lord, give us another chance! Do not forget that we are your people just like Moses reminds Him: They are your people, You led them out, You sanctified them, they are your people.”
On Sept. 11, 1683, Polish King John Sobieski III and Supreme Commander of the Christian Coalition Army, led 18,000 horsemen, with the famous “winged hussars,” against the enemy Turkish lines. In a battle that included what is considered the largest cavalry charge in history, Sobieski thoroughly defeated them.
The victory of allied Polish, Austrian, Bavarian, Saxon, Venetian and other troops marked the historic end of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into Europe.
Before going to war, the Polish king, a devout Catholic, had entrusted his kingdom to the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Czestochowa. Drawing on this legacy, in 1684 Pope Innocent XI introduced the Feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the date of Sept. 12.
The feast was briefly struck from the calendar by liturgical reformer Monsignor Annibale Bugnini during Vatican II, but restored by Saint John Paul II in 2002.
Schönborn, a confidante of Pope Francis, warned the congregation in the Cathedral of Vienna on Sunday, that Europe had “squandered and wasted” its Christian inheritance, just like the younger brother in the parable told by Christ.
“What will become of Europe?” asked the cardinal.
He closed his homily with a prayer:
“Lord, remember, it is your people. And if we have strayed and if we have squandered the inheritance, Lord, do not abandon us! Do not abandon this Europe, which has produced so many saints. Do not abandon us, because we have become lukewarm in our faith.
“…Have mercy on your inheritance, have mercy on your people, with Europe, which is about to forfeit your Christian inheritance! Have mercy on us and raise us up again, for the glory of your name and as a blessing to the world! Amen.”