Churches to give glacier a Christian burial in Austria. Mass for Dead Glacier took place in Germany last month.

Churches celebrate "glacier funeral" on the Großglockner

Symbolic burial of a coffin made of ice on Austria's largest glacier to draw attention to consequences of climate crisis - Representatives of Catholic and Protestant Church, politics, science and sports at funeral service on 5 September

This one, called a Mass for the Dead took place in Germany a month ago.

The Catholic and Protestant Churches in Carinthia will participate in a "glacier funeral" on 5 September at the Großglockner and the Pasterze, respectively (11 am). Together with representatives from politics, science and sports, the churches want to draw attention to the melting of the glaciers and the general effects of the climate crisis, according to a statement by the organisation "Protect Our Winters Austria".

On behalf of the Diocese of Gurk, the Episcopal Vicar and Provost of Gurk, Engelbert Guggenberger, will take part in the funeral service for the glacier, and the Superintendent of Carinthia, Manfred Sauer, has promised to come on behalf of the Protestant Church. In addition to the symbolic burial of a coffin made of ice, there will be a procession and short lectures highlighting the social, economic and ecological impacts of climate change in Austria.

The ceremony is a "Requiem in the figurative sense", Guggenberger told Kathpress on Friday. When a glacier melts, something comes to an end, which raises existential questions that need to be addressed, the clergyman said. "It is about pausing and thinking about the responsibility for creation," Guggenberger said. This is a "core issue of the Church", he expressed his conviction. When glaciers melt, this has "very serious consequences for everyone", and a symbolic "burial of the glacier" is one way of drawing attention to this fundamental concern of the Church.

"Such actions are needed to draw attention to the urgency of the matter," Superintendent Sauer was also convinced. The Protestant Church wants to make an active contribution to the preservation of creation and climate protection, Sauer said.

Objective and non-partisan action

The Pasterze will lose its tongue sooner than expected and thus will no longer be Austria's largest glacier, the organisers announced. They wanted to take this as an opportunity to initiate an objective and non-partisan debate on the effects of climate change in Austria.

In addition to the church representatives, Carina Reiter (Austrian People's Party), Lukas Hammer and Meri Disoski (both Greens) and Walter Rauch (Austrian Freedom Party) have announced their participation, as well as Andreas Schieder (Austrian Social Democratic Party), Member of the European Parliament. From the sporting side, ÖSV athlete Julian Schütter and freeride world champion Manuela Mandl have confirmed their attendance. Representatives of the tourism region, the Hohe Tauern National Park, Climate Alliance Carinthia and "Protect our Winters" will also be present.


Cathcon: The universal law of the Church is the salvation of souls, not glaciers.


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