Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Emperor Karl

The 21st of October is the memorial for Blessed Charles I of Austria. After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, he became the presumptive heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to which he succeeded in November 1916, in the midst of World War I. He began almost immediately to try to negotiate a peace settlement. Under pressure from Woodrow Wilson, who had put forward his Fourteen Points as the basis for a peace, Charles issued a decree turning his Empire into a confederation. Disputes among the different ethnic nations now given partial self-governance began to pull the Empire apart. They began to declare independence. With even Hungary severing union, and a challenge looming within Austria itself, Charles in November 1918 'relinquished participation' in all government matters. He very definitely did not abdicate, since he hoped that a change of winds in either Austria or Hungary might recall him to the throne, and he considered himself the rightful Emperor to his death -- but he gave up all political power. He attempted in 1921 to reclaim the throne of Hungary, but failed completely, and lived in relative poverty until his death in 1922 on the island of Madeira.

He has generally been regarded as a very weak emperor; but he has also been lauded for his sincere devotion to peace and common good.

Charles I of Austria

From Pope John Paul II's beatification homily:

The decisive task of Christians consists in seeking, recognizing and following God's will in all things. The Christian statesman, Charles of Austria, confronted this challenge every day. To his eyes, war appeared as "something appalling". Amid the tumult of the First World War, he strove to promote the peace initiative of my Predecessor, Benedict XV.

From the beginning, the Emperor Charles conceived of his office as a holy service to his people. His chief concern was to follow the Christian vocation to holiness also in his political actions. For this reason, his thoughts turned to social assistance. May he be an example for all of us, especially for those who have political responsibilities in Europe today!

1 comment:

  1. i read about him he had no right to rule..is it true?

    ReplyDelete

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