The European Union: United We Fall
The European Union continues to challenge the sovereignty of its "independent" members by attempting to impose a secularist ideology which can only result in the death of Europe. The latest incident is the EU's demand that Spain eliminate its sales tax exemption for the Catholic Church within 60 days. Other interference with national sovereignty has included pressure to liberalize abortion laws in Ireland, meddling with a male monastic preserve on a Greek island, and efforts to force all European doctors to participate in abortion.
Ideology at Work
Many if not most EU court cases and legislative initiatives seem directed at expunging Christianity and Christian principles from the European memory, reducing the influence of the Catholic Church, and bringing member states into line with the latest fads of secular morality and secular sexual relations. The long debate over the proposed constitution for the European Union clearly revealed an animus against Christianity, an animus commonly associated with totalitarian leaders who wish to use international institutions to impose militant secularism on local peoples.
Member states are under considerable social and economic pressure to give up even their vestigial attachments to both the richness of their individual identities and the common ground of Christianity from which the very idea and possibility of Europe sprang. The entire project has a Faustian air as politicians turn their backs on local aspirations, values and even life itself in order to win a place among the glitterati. The results only contribute to Europe's long-term failure to reproduce itself, creating a trend that is threatening not only the identity but the very existence of most member nations.
The Death of Europe
This trend will be tempered only somewhat by the recent addition of a number of states from Eastern Europe, where there are still many more young people than in the West, and where people still marry at a slightly younger age. Unfortunately, the rape of Eastern Europe's cultural and moral heritage under Communism has left the region only a few years behind Western Europe in the destruction of its own population. Studies conducted by the European Union itself show that dramatic change is required to stave off the disappearance of many national and ethnic groups. Moreover, rising standards in other countries are expected to slow the immigration which has until now prevented Europe from sinking under the weight of its own elderly.
Make no mistake about it: Europe is dying, not only figuratively but literally. The general population replacement rate of 1.4 children per woman is causing a demographic winter in Europe which has led some regions, and the EU itself, to call on people to have more children. But the message in favor of sexual license, homosexuality, freedom from commitment, and flight from responsibility is far more pervasive. This message is also constantly imposed into law, especially by the courts. Barring significant change, Europe is expected to enter a very steep final decline after 2010.
Civil Union or Civil War
There are so many cultural, religious, political and even long-term economic goods imperiled by the super-heated ideology of the European Unioneven if this ideology only marginally eclipses that of the secular leaders of many individual countriesthat it is difficult to see how the EU can do anything but hasten Europe's ultimate demise. One possible brake is the potential willingness of member states to insist on their sovereignty when the EU tries to pressure them into changing their own laws, as in the case of Spain. In a vacuum, whether or not the Catholic Church continues to receive a sales tax exemption in Spain is an issue of very little consequence. But in the context we've been discussing, the issue has enormous implications.
One wonders if the very attempt to unite more closely might eventually lead to rebellion among the member states. For the moment, one wonders in vain. The United States has been down this road of federation, though under very different circumstances, and the process was anything but smooth and trouble free. The issue of slavery aside, people are still debating whether the final outcome was worth all the trouble. Europe now has its own assessment to make of the benefits of uniting more closely around a dubious vision of the future, and the appropriate answer may well be the opposite of our own.
Pope Benedict XVI: A Man for Europe
Pope Benedict XVI has written widely on the problem of Europe and its need to recover its soul. Even Benedict cannot predict that Europe will revive, but at least he knows what is wrong. This Pope is one of the deepest and most gifted of Europeans, though among secularists he must appear to be self-serving when he insists that Europe is doomed unless it rediscovers its Christian roots and taps into them to sustain its future. Nonetheless, he must tell the truth, and it should not surprise us if in the foreseeable future we are given an encyclical on this subject. We Americans will no doubt read it smugly with our breakfast, forgetting how narrowly our country currently escapes the same deadly malaise.
Most of us can and should pray for Europe as if we are praying for our aging mothers. So much of what is best in the American heritage comes from the greatness of Christian Europe when she was young. In the EU this sentiment will be criticized for being offensive to atheists, whose invariable moral fault is to bite the hand that feeds them. But the plight of Europe has gone far beyond the meager power of atheists to remedy. Only Christ can raise the dead.
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