VIENNA (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Christoph Schönborn defended the Austrian bishops’ decision to lock down churches and go along with the government’s draconian COVID measures.
“I still stand by the fact that at that time we did what the government also thought was the right thing to do in its responsibility,” Schönborn said in an interview with Austria’s state-funded TV station ORF.
“In retrospect, we say that this or that measure could have been different. In retrospect, we are always wiser. But you shouldn’t pretend that it wasn’t necessary to make decisions in a critical situation,” Schönborn continued.
“The fact that the Church here has supported these [Covid] measures is something I take for granted,” the Austrian bishop said. “Because when the government says these are the necessary health measures, I can’t stand up and say, ‘Wait a minute, that’s too undifferentiated for me, et cetera … ‘ but in retrospect, you see some things differently.”
Schönborn apologized for a controversial statement he made a year ago when he criticized people who opposed the Covid injections and said, “Dear God, let it rain brains,” insinuating that “the unvaccinated” were stupid. He insisted that he did not mean that people who oppose the Covid measures were stupid but that everyone needed “more brains.”
The prelate stressed that we should not try to fix the mistakes of the past. “It’s not worth calculating now what could have been done differently,” he stated. “We were all in a dramatic situation.”
“We have to look forward. We have to look at how we deal with the current situation.”
When one of the interviewers asked Schönborn about the declining Church attendance in Austria, especially since the Covid crisis, the bishops responded by saying, “I see it with a certain serenity, because that’s just the way it is. I’m not convinced that it will always stay that way. It can change.”
Schönborn and the rest of the Austrian bishops’ conference not only went along with the draconian Covid measures by locking down churches and severely limiting the faithful’s ability to receive the sacraments, but the Austrian Cardinal also worked together with the Socialist government of Vienna to establish a “vaccination station” in St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Thousands of people received the abortion-tainted Covid injection inside Vienna’s most famous Catholic Church.
A petition against “vaccination stations” in St. Stephen’s Cathedral and other churches gathered more than 12,000 signatures at the time.
When Austria became the first Western nation to implement a general vaccine mandate for all adult citizens, the Austrian bishops published a statement in which they condoned the government’s decision and claimed that a vaccine mandate is permissible as a “last resort.”
Pushing the climate change agenda
Questioned about climate change, Schönborn said he “shares the concerns of Pope Francis.”
“We only have this one globe. We only have this earth,” he said. When the interviewer asked Schönborn about climate activists who glue themselves to the street all over Europe to obstruct traffic, the Austrian prelate said that he “share[s] the activists’ concern,” although you could debate about the kind of protest they are engaging in.
The Synodal Way, celebrating Muslim feasts and abolishing priestly celibacy
Addressing the heterodox German Synodal Way, Schönborn said that “what is missing in the Synodal Way are the issues of climate, environment, [and] the great social issues.”
“These reforms will not bring people back to the Church,” he stated. “That’s going to happen in a completely different way.”
The 78-year-old prelate said that what attracts people to the faith are “vibrant communities.” He told a story of a parish that he recently visited where an “Iftar meal,” the Islamic breaking of the fast in the month of Ramadan, with Muslim families took place.
“There were Muslim families there and the parish community is so vibrant,” Schönborn recalled. “What attracts people is a parish that is alive. That doesn’t depend on whether this reform or that reform happens. That depends on whether there is life there, whether people are welcome there.”
When the prelate was asked about priestly celibacy, he echoed Pope Francis’ statements about lifting the celibacy requirement and said the only question is “when, where, and how.”