At the suggestion of our Austrian correspondent AMT, three articles about the three-month (and ongoing) occupation of the Votive Church in Vienna have been translated by JLH. The three pieces will be posted separately; below is an introduction to the trilogy written by AMT.
Asylum Seekers, the Catholic Church, and an All-Out Culture War
Since well before Christmas, Austrian citizens and the authorities have been plagued by a group of Pakistani Muslim asylum seekers who — with the assistance of well-known leftist agitators from Germany — have been illegally occupying a famous Catholic church in the heart of Vienna.
The occupation was preceded by the asylum seekers’ march from Traiskirchen, the refugee camp housing those entering Austria while they wait for their official status, to the Votivkirche, where at first a camp was set up both inside and outside the church. The outdoor camp was quickly removed by the police authorities. The occupation of the church has been going on continuously since, with church officials showing solidarity with the Pakistanis, unduly politicizing the case.
Professional leftists as well as ÖVP politicians ceremoniously spend the night with the occupiers in the cold church, wanting to show solidarity. Austrian Catholics are outraged by the illegal occupation, bombarding Cardinal Schönborn with letters, phone calls and e-mails to end this farce. The Cardinal has done very little so far to defuse the situation — unsurprisingly, one might add, for he is a soft-spoken man who strongly dislikes any kind of confrontation.
The occupiers themselves have been on a hunger strike now and again, demanding (!) that they be accepted into the country, that their fingerprints deleted, and that they be given the immediate right to work. This is a no-go for the minister of interior (good for her!) and thus the current status is in a stalemate.
One might add that according to the current laws, asylum-seekers are permitted to take up certain paid work until their final status has been determined. However, only very few take up this opportunity. One wonders why…
The Austrian state and the Caritas have offered the occupiers a warm place to stay (free of charge) and food (free of charge) in addition to some pocket-money. Sadly, many native Austrians do not enjoy the same privileges.
Why don’t the police don’t just enter the church and “remove” the protestors? This is not possible due to the concordat between the Holy See and Austria. Only if the priest calls the police can they enter. And because of the archdiocese’s backing of the protestors, the Muslim Pakistanis are still illegally occupying a holy Catholic place of worship.
Just imagine if this were to happen the other way around…
A note on the trilogy:
The Zeitz piece has resonated extremely well among the many thousands who have read the letter to the Cardinal. the Cardinal in turn has softened his rhetoric slightly as a result, calling on the occupiers not to listen to the leftist agitators whose focus is on the instrumentalization of the asylum-seekers for their own purposes.
Next: Asylum Fraud and the Devastation of Society