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Catholic churches in Austria remain open in face of threats



St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna

John Burger - published on 03/16/23

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna packed with believers and faithful in spite of warning from police.

Catholic churches in Austria plan to stay open in spite of a general threat to Christian churches. 

Police in Vienna, the Austrian capital, said that the country’s public security directorate had received indications that an attack with an “Islamist motive” had been planned in the city.

Vienna police said on Wednesday that it had increased patrols at places of worship as a common “preventative measure.” 

“You will notice there are currently a larger number of police forces on patrol with special equipment,” Vienna’s police force announced on Twitter. “The reason is a non-specific threat of attack against churches.”

But a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Vienna told the Associated Press that Catholic churches do not appear to be the main target.

“We do not appear to be primarily affected,” said Michael Prüller. “While we were informed by police about the general threat, we were also told that there is no imminent danger for Catholics.”

The archdiocese has “decided to keep churches open to the public and celebrate all church services as planned for the time being.”

The Associated Press reported that St. Stephen’s Cathedral, located in downtown Vienna, was packed with believers and tourists on Wednesday. If there is a concrete danger for the population at a particular location, Vienna police will immediately issue a warning “via all available channels,” police said.

Local media reported that the Syrian Christian community could be the main target of a possible attack.

AP pointed out that in 2020, a man who had tried to join the Islamic State group went on a rampage in Vienna armed with an automatic rifle and a fake explosive vest. He killed four people before he was killed by police.

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