An Austrian Catholic Bishop has put his weight behind Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) candidate Norbert Hofer, saying Christians who vote for the Green Party are “brainwashed.”
Salzburg Bishop Andreas Laun has come out in full support of anti-mass migration FPÖ candidate Norbert Hofer saying: “God help us and the people in our country!…You can only choose Mr. Hofer and pray for him and for Austria,” in a commentary for a Catholic website, Kurier reports.
The comments were made ahead of the second round of Austrian presidential elections that will see the FPÖ candidate face off against Green Party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen.
Bishop Laun spared no mercy when it came to the Green Party presidential hopeful: “In all delicate and dangerous questions, from the protection of life to the God question to gender, he is on the wrong side.”
He was also “speechless” that so many Catholic organisations could contemplate supporting Mr. Van der Bellen. He said that support for the Green Party exposed people’s lack of critical thinking and how indifferent many Catholics are in regard to their faith.
According to Bishop Laun, the many smears against Mr. Hofer and the FPÖ are nonsense. By comparing them to Nazis the bishop says the left and the media are trying to win emotional sympathy rather than argue the facts.
According to Bishop Laun, Christians who give in to this kind of rhetoric rather than apply their Catholic values are simply “brainwashed.” He claims that, between the FPÖ and Green Party, Mr. Hofer is the only one who has the right answers when it comes to questions of gender, the role of God and the sanctity of the unborn.
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, one of the most senior members of the clergy in Austria, reacted to the comments by saying that while it is a tradition for bishops to stay out of political issues in Austria, he could not condemn him for his opinion.
Cardinal Schönborn said that it was up to each Catholic to make up their own mind on who they should vote for, saying that ” no one is in possession of the whole truth, not even to themselves.”
The Austrian presidential elections could mark a turning point for Europe and the migrant crisis. The first round saw the FPÖ winning the vote by a large margin going into Sunday’s race.
The fallout of the presidential election has already been felt as former Chancellor Werner Faymann was forced to step down from his position after his party had one of their worst results since the Second World War.
The migrant crisis has been a constant boost for the FPÖ. In both regional and mayoral elections the party has seen its best results since former leader Jörg Haider was invited to become part of a coalition government in 2000.
The hard line stance of FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache was summed up in 2014 when he said that if migrants will not integrate into Austrian society, they must be expelled.