Keeping Catholic Churches Open All Night

Moments of Conversion, Says Cardinal Schönborn

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VIENNA, Austria, JUNE 9, 2003 ( Cardinal Christoph Schönborn is all for keeping churches open at night.

«The Night of Mercy» is how the archbishop of Vienna describes the initiative to keep churches open round the clock so that the «faithful will have available at any time a place of silence and prayer.»

He was referring to the International Congress for the New Evangelization and the Urban Mission.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Schönborn said he decided to implement the initiative, together with the archbishops of Paris, Lisbon and Brussels, noting that «the big cities is where man feels most the need of the Gospel and the search for God.»

These innovative congresses — the first ended here June 1 — will take place in Paris (Oct. 23-Nov. 1, 2004), in Lisbon (in 2005), and in Brussels (in 2006). The idea came from the Emmanuel charismatic community.

«European capitals should take advantage of the treasure implied in so many beautiful churches full of history,» the Vienna archbishop said. «To leave their doors open at night for the enjoyment of a place of silence and prayer might make possible an amazing experience.»

These «nights of mercy» are a form of evangelization in the large cities, and they give priests the possibility to speak openly about the faith with the citizens, Cardinal Schönborn explained.

«The Church thus opens its heart to the wounded hearts of the people of today,» he added. These moments «produce a great number of conversions.»

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