Quick Hits: The EU in crisis, the genocide in the Vendée, the opioid epidemic

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 13, 2017

  • The European Union is in trouble. The vision that guided its creation—provided mostly by men with a deeply Catholic sensibility—has been swept away by the rising tide of secularism. The economic interests of member-nations have diverged, putting strains on the alliance. EU leaders have been facing more and more resistance in their efforts to maintain unity among the partners, and with the Brexit vote their problem was transformed into a crisis. What could revive the sense of European unity? Samuel Gregg, writing for Catholic World Report, remarks with regret that the Catholic Church, which should have the answers, faces its own difficulties in finding a public voice. Particularly in Germany, he says, the Church has become too bureaucratic to speak in clear tones. “Bureaucratization also facilitates resistance to any initiatives which imply that the status quo isn’t working,” he adds. The problem is exacerbated, he writes, because while Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI frequently urged Europeans to rediscover their Christian heritage, Pope Francis has shied away from such public statements, explaining that they have “colonialist overtones.”

  • Fortunately the aggressive secularism of Europe in the early 21st century has not (yet) reached the extremes that prevailed in the French Revolution. A new film, The Hidden Rebellion, tells the story of stalwart Catholics who resisted the attack on their faith, and the awful price they paid. The film examines the brutal campaign against the people of the Vendée region: the first example of government-sponsored genocide, using primitive yet effective techniques of mass extermination. Roughly 200,000 people were killed: about one-third of the residents of the Vendée. The Hidden Rebellion tells the story that history books too often ignore.

  • The martyrs of the Vendée died for their faith; their sad story had a happy ending. Christopher Caldwell tells another sad story, about America’s opioid epidemic, which has no end in sight. Caldwell explains how the problem has escalated, and why the most common responses have failed. It is difficult to overstate the severity of the opioid epidemic, and difficult to find a program that treats addiction effectively. “The deeper problem, however, is at once metaphysical and practical,” Caldwell argues; “and we’re going to have a very hard time confronting it.” The topic is undeniably depressing, but this is a terrific article.

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 CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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