Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

the powerful new EU: a setback for democracy

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Nov 06, 2009

If France suddenly ceased to exist as an independent state, would that qualify as big news-- a story that belonged on the top of the headlines?

Well in a sense that's what happened this week. With the final ratification of the Lisbon Treaty on November 3, France-- along with the other 26 nations of the European Union-- became a small partner in a very large new enterprise. When the treaty takes effect on December 1, Europe will have a single president with sweeping new powers. The individual member-states will retain their own parliaments and their own executives, but they will have a new boss.

How did it happen that so many European governments lost their autonomy without a fight? It happened, argues Paul Belien, because the leaders of those European government wanted it to happen. Belien-- who writes from Brussels, but is definitely not a fan of the new power center there-- sees the newly powerful European Union as a means by which the international elite controls the ordinary populace:

The EU is basically a cartel, consisting of the 27 governments of the member states, who have concluded that it is easier to pass laws in the secret EU meetings with their colleagues than through their own national parliaments in the glare of public criticism.

Belien's argument is worth reading in full. Particularly noteworthy is his recounting of how the Lisbon Treaty came into force, just a few years after the people of France and Denmark had voted against adoption of a strong European constitution. The Lisbon Treaty was not rejected by the public; because the public never had a chance; it was approved quietly by parliamentary motions in the member-states. Only in Ireland did the people vote on the Lisbon Treaty, and when they voted against it there, the government soon scheduled a new vote, and campaigned energetically-- and in the end successfully-- for a Yes vote.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus was the last holdout, and when he hinted that he would not sign the treaty, other European leaders stepped up the pressure. French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner explained that "a single man is not allowed to oppose the will of 500 million Europeans." But the point is that 500 million Europeans never had a chance to express their will. Like it or not, they are now subjects of the European Union.

The newly unified European Union will be a powerful presence in international affairs. Given the current climate of opinion in Europe, it will not exert that force to promote the dignity of human life, or to safeguard the legitimate public role of religious faith. It seems unlikely, too, that the European Union will be a force in favor of democracy, since this new super-state was established by such patently anti-democratic means.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: concerned_citizen - Apr. 27, 2018 4:46 PM ET USA

    As feedback said, I admit I've largely checked out on daily news of the Pope. It's too confusing. Honestly, I was shocked at my own reaction to the recent Scalfari interview: "Ah, Francis doesn't believe in hell...par for the course." One hard thing for me with Francis is that it seems we've lost the Catholic balance of holding apparent opposites in tension to display a deeper unity at work (e.g. Its not "be ye perfect" against God's mercy, but rather together with it on our road to heaven).

  • Posted by: koinonia - Apr. 27, 2018 8:19 AM ET USA

    "There’s a Christ-like vulnerability in a pope giving a geriatric atheist the freedom to twist his words." This captures the problem. Just imagine what Pope Pius X would have replied to this comment. If not sure, read "Pascendi." The problem is not just the thought itself but the whole way of thinking. The gospel has always been approached by the Church as a treasure; as something to be assiduously guarded and preached with clarity (and charity) for the "simple believers." "Watch!"says Our Lord.

  • Posted by: feedback - Apr. 27, 2018 8:08 AM ET USA

    I've noticed that many faithful practicing Catholics, laity and clergy, have quit altogether trying to understand, follow, quote or explain what Pope Francis is saying or doing, out of respect for the office of the Successor of St. Peter and out of charity. Which creates a false impression of calm. The remedy is in fervent prayers for the Pope and the Church with greater involvement of faithful lay Catholics with their zeal for the Lord and for the truth. Christ is always present in His Church.

  • Posted by: shrink - Apr. 26, 2018 5:39 PM ET USA

    And rattled we should be. There is one other facet to this problem, which is that this pope has surrounded himself with men who not only advance the progressive propaganda in the media, but he positioned as ring leaders in the Vatican, players such as Paglia, and Coccopalmerio. It is not clear that these men are Catholic in the ordinary meaning of the term, since at every turn they seek to cut today's Church off from taproot of its traditions. They are "wreckers" and Francis is their boss.

  • Posted by: Retired01 - Apr. 26, 2018 3:57 PM ET USA

    A pope cannot openly contradict Church doctrine. He, however, can undermine it by stating Church doctrine one day, and stating something that can be interpreted as contradicting Church doctrine another day, but mostly by refusing to make things clear after the ensuing confusion. This is what it appears Pope Francis is doing. By the fruits of this pontificate we can evaluate Pope Francis, and in particular and so far, by the fruits of Amoris Laetitia.

  • Posted by: MWCooney - Apr. 26, 2018 1:55 PM ET USA

    Clever evangelizing? We will know them by their fruits, so when is Scalfari scheduled for his entry into the Church? And let's just ignore the scandalizing of those already shaky in their faith, or those who are on the edge of conversion, but who recoil at these antics. Those liberal (read: dissident) Catholics who celebrate this situation are getting pretty desperate in their attempts at defense.

  • Posted by: dtroupe15590 - Nov. 09, 2009 11:28 AM ET USA

    The North American Union is next. It too, will happen without much of a fight. We are too distracted by our iphones, our sports, and other endless gods of distraction. Our leaders will do the right thing for us. Won't they??

  • Posted by: colrose18194 - Nov. 08, 2009 2:11 PM ET USA

    I can't believe this has happened. Please tell me Christ's coming is not far off. If that's not feasible, is there another planet we can hop to?

  • Posted by: adamah - Nov. 07, 2009 7:12 PM ET USA

    We must not be afraid. These things need to happen. The world is in need of purification. The Church is in need of purification. Purification is not painless. It is better that there be persecution and purification than so many souls be lost for all eternity. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus on the cross. JPII used to say "Be not afraid!"

  • Posted by: Lisa Nicholas, PhD - Nov. 07, 2009 3:45 PM ET USA

    More and more these days, I feel that I'm living in Robert Hugh Benson's novel of the end times, "The Lord of the World." I'm just waiting for the EU to elect a president named "Julian Felsenburgh."

  • Posted by: - Nov. 07, 2009 12:06 PM ET USA

    I`m sure the EU nations will fall in line just as all parts of The Soviet Union did.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Nov. 06, 2009 10:34 PM ET USA

    Obviously. This is the outfit that ordered Italy to take down the crucifixes in classrooms. And the Italians will do it.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 06, 2009 10:03 PM ET USA

    Can you see the hovering shadow of 'the anti-christ'. I never believed it would happen but it is here. There is only one thing that can change destiny, and that is Prayer. Everyone should get down on their knees and pray for God's forgiveness. Prophecy is not etched in stone. It can be changed and only by prayer. Our God is the only god that has given mankind free will. Will we use it wisely?