The Catholic Church in Vienna has promised 1,000 places for immigrant accommodation over the next few weeks, as they install bedrooms and bathrooms in disused church-owned buildings and monasteries.
The order, made by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, de facto head of the Catholic Church in Austria, and the man tipped by some to be the next pope is being part funded by the Austrian government, with money coming out of the state housing fund. Although the Cardinal’s order only applies to his own Archdiocese, Austrian radio Wien ORF reports he “expects similar measures” from the other bishops and dioceses of the nation.
The move shows the remarkable swing of faith in Austria, where church congregations continue to dwindle and a great many buildings become surplus to requirements – just like most Western nations. Today the best use that can be found for them is to house – predominantly Muslim – economic migrants and refugees.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese told press that the availability of disused rectories was becoming scarce, and that in any case many had already been sold or rented out long ago, so there was a need to convert other buildings instead. He said “Dozens of parishes and monasteries have offered places in the last few days”, reports TheLocal.at.
Churches are not by far the strangest place that European communities have come up with to house their rapidly expanding new populations. Breitbart London reported in January this year that a small German town was looking to re-use accommodation from former Nazi, and later Soviet concentration camp Buchenwald.
The move infuriated some locals, with the director of the local refugee council remarking “The plans recall bad memories and sinister pictures”.
Many refugees in Europe are living in shipping containers – modified for that purpose to create formed-steel temporary homes. Demand for them in the face of the migrant flood overwhelming Europe this year has outstripped all supply – one of the largest manufacturers of container homes in Europe is only able to produce enough to satisfy the demand of just one German city this year – Hamburg.
Elsewhere, natives have found themselves evicted for the purpose of asylum accommodation. Across Germany and Austria, students have found themselves turfed out of their term-time digs so it could be converted into migrant housing, even as they were taking their finals exams, and university gyms have been turned over. In Sweden, the elderly residents of one retirement home were shocked to find their building had been requestioned, with the inhabitants expected to pack up and get out inside of a month.
Originally housing just ten people, the newly refurbished home would make accommodation for a remarkable 144 asylum seekers.