According to the Archdiocese of Vienna, the Cardinal said: “Will there be an Islamic conquest of Europe? Many Muslims want that and say: Europe is at its end.”
He asked God to have mercy on Europe and to show mercy to its people, which he said “are in danger of forfeiting our Christian heritage.”
Cardinal Schoenborn, who is also the Archbishop of Vienna, explained that people could already feel this loss, “not only economically, but above all, in human and religious matters.”
During the battle in 1683, combined Christian forces defeated over 100,000 soldiers from the Ottoman Empire.
The battle was fought by the Habsburg Monarchy, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire against the invading Muslim Ottoman Empire.
Polish King John III Sobieski famously commanded the Christian army toward its victory.
The Ottoman soldiers had already started to take the Austrian capital Vienna which was defended by only 10,000 Habsburg soldiers when Polish horsemen attacked them from the rear and devastated the Turkish army – which was forced to retreat.
The Catholic Church in Austria was not the only one to commemorate the event.
The far-right Austrian Freedom Party also held a controversial event, stressing the need to defend the “Western World” from invaders.
On a controversial poster, they wrote “Abendland Beschutzen Damals Wie Heute” which means to protect the Western World – in the past as well as today.
The event was held at Vienna’s Palais Ferstl, and included an opening speech by Vienna’s Vice-Mayor Johann Gudenus and speeches by Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache, as well as historian and university professor Dr Lothar Hobelt.
The commemorations come at a time of heightened tensions between Austria and Turkey, the modern Republic which succeeded the Ottoman Empire after its final collapse.
After the failed coup attempt in Turkey, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz warned he will stop any move that brings Turkey closer to joining the European Union.
“The two countries’ relations have sharply deteriorated since those events.”
The 71-year-old Cardinal has been linked as one of the most likely candidates to take over the position of Pope, although in previous elections at the end it was decided that he was still too young.