By Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino
Otto von Habsburg, Patron of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, has died today aged 98.
It is with profound sadness that we mourn the passing of one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest defenders of the Catholic faith and human dignity. Even well into his 90s, Otto von Habsburg campaigned tirelessly to uphold Europe’s Christian values and the sanctity of all human life. Indeed it is a testimony to his deep sense of purpose and conviction that, despite his increasing frailty, he agreed to become a patron of the Institute last year.
As the head of one of Europe’s most influential families, he became particularly disturbed by the rise of the great totalitarian ideologies, and fought equally against both National Socialism and International Socialism at significant risk to his own life.
As recently as 2007, he showed that his uncompromising position on the non-negotiables was still very much in action when he argued that lobbyists campaigning on behalf of human dignity should examine the effective tactics used by the anti-family lobby and use them to promote protection of the most vulnerable.
Otto von Habsburg’s father, (Emperor) Blessed Karl of Austria, instilled in him from an early age that the office of a ruler is one of holy service and selfless sacrifice for the good of the peoples entrusted to him. It was a philosophy that would influence him all his life. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers at this time are turned towards the repose of Otto’s soul, the consolation of his family, and loss of the people of Austria; and we trust in the mercy of God that today this holy, humble man beholds the face of Jesus Christ, now into eternity.
Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, Honorary President of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute