Pope: Europe’s apostasy against itself

Pope: Europe’s apostasy against itself

While it didn’t make as much of a splash in the US media as his entirely unsurprising reminder that hell exists, Pope Benedict’s speech last week on the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome that led to the European Union is much greater effect in Europe. In this speech, he said that Europe has strayed from its own principles, that even more basic than apostasy from God it is “an apostate from itself” “even doubting its own identity.”

The Holy Father has often spoken on European identity, doing so long before he became Pope, and how that identity is indelibly tied both to the Christian faith and to the principles of Western civilization. He speaks of Europe as “leaven for the world,” which it has been indisputably. Recall that while Christianity had its roots in a Semitic culture of the Middle East, it was God’s plan that it should find its full flowering in Europe. Like a newly baptized Christian, the Roman Empire was the “old man” of sin who entered the holy water and “died”, to be reborn as the New Man in Christ. And as the faith spread throughout Europe along the Roman arteries, it transformed the continent and despite the wars and tragedies of the last 1,500 years, it is the faith that has bound Europe like a dysfunctional family.

And it was the European explorer spirit, a spirit inspired by economic opportunity and nationalist sentiment as much as by evangelical zeal, that brought Christ out into the whole world. But now, that zeal has lost its luster and Europe is in danger of forgetting its own identity. While the pull of economics is as great as ever, zeal for Christ is not.

The Pope’s view: don’t ignore your identity

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  • “it[Europe] is our patrimony, both cultural and religious, and we would do well to consider that as goes Europe so too we may go.”

    Well put, Dom!  We in the US seem to be quite ambivalent about our European heritage.  There was a time when many of our European immigrants, including my own Polish grandparents, were only to happy to leave the dangerous politcal situation behind them.  That was understandable given the forces of evil that ran rampant across most of Europe during the 20th Century.  But these same grandparents maintained a profound relationship to their Catholic roots as did many Christian and Jewish immigrants from Europe and they cared for their own Polish traditions that were formed and nurtured by the Church.

    However, Europe is a bellwether now of new socio-political forces, both secular and Islamic.  Many of them are inherently dangerous to the continuity of any sort of humane civilization not to mention aspirations to be Godly societies.  And, like it or not, all of our best American values stem from those that came out of a European matrix.  Our forefathers relied upon their own heritage to lay the foundation for American government.  America was not created in a vacuum, nor did the founding fathers recieve their inspiration from the Iroquois.  We are the child of Europe.

  • You’re right, John. Even for those whose ancestors (or they themselves) did not come from Europe are still the beneficiaries of that European patrimony that makes America what it is.

  • And thus we enter the New Dark Ages, because if Western Culture collapses, everything in the culture goes with it.  Everything—all those things people take for granted but that hinge on Western history & culture: civilization, morals, manners, comforts, dignity, education, family structure, justice—all of it. 

    People think they have rights to these things or can get them on their own.  People think that their wishes for these things will be granted in a so-called multicultural or a-cultural free-for-all.  That would be dead wrong.

    These things come from the traditions and cultures built up in the West around the Catholic Church. Anyone who has ever really understood history knows that.