Pope Francis Urges EU Leaders to Fight Populism
Pope Francis said on Friday that the European Union risks “dying” unless European leaders band together against populism. Speaking at the Vatican on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the pontiff told the leaders of 27 EU member states (minus Britain) that “solidarity” is “the most effective antidote to modern forms of populism.”
With euroskeptic parties gaining support across the Continent, the pope warned of a growing split between European citizens and their representative institutions. To prevent such a split, Pope Francis urged his audience to adopt a new vision for Europe. “Europe finds new hope in solidarity, which is also the most effective antidote to modern forms of populism,” he said. “Solidarity entails the awareness of being part of a single body, while at the same time involving a capacity on the part of each member to ‘sympathize’ with others and with the whole.”
The word populism refers to an ideology that favors common people against elites. Roman Catholic use of the term solidarity refers to a principle that all human beings are bound together as members of a collective body. Solidarity is a key pillar of Catholic social doctrine, which teaches that individualism is spiritually demeaning, therefore people are happiest when placed in a hierarchy guided by the Roman Catholic Church.
“There is a need to start thinking once again as Europeans, so as to avert the opposite dangers of a dreary uniformity or the triumph of particularisms,” Pope Francis said. “Politics needs this kind of leadership, which avoids appealing to emotions to gain consent, but instead, in a spirit of solidarity and subsidiarity, devises policies that can make the Union as a whole develop harmoniously. As a result, those who run faster can offer a hand to those who are slower, and those who find the going harder can aim at catching up to those at the head of the line.”
In particular, the pope called on EU leaders to fight populism by concentrating on people who are joining antiestablishment parties and addressing their concerns. He urged leaders to invest in economic development and to provide people with jobs, decent living conditions and access to education and health care.
While Pope Francis and his predecessors have spoken to EU leaders many times in the past, this address that comes 60 years after the European Economic Community was founded carries particular significance. The rise of fringe parties across Europe is depriving traditional parties of their usual votes and warping the Continent’s electoral system. Many nations are becoming ungovernable, as there are so many new political parties with seats in parliament that it is impossible to form a stable coalition. Increasingly, European leaders are realizing that the Roman Catholic Church is the one, stable, pan-European institution that can provide a sense of unity and solidarity to the Continent.
By encouraging European leaders to address the concerns causing people to abandon establishment institutions for fringe parties, Pope Francis is setting the Roman Catholic Church up as the solid, uniting factor and the spiritual force guiding an emerging European superstate.
While many historians and analysts underestimate the role of the Roman Catholic Church in European history, Herbert W. Armstrong, editor in chief of the Trumpet’s predecessor, the Plain Truth, never made that mistake. In his booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast?, he described in detail what the Bible says about the Roman Catholic Church’s role in uniting a seventh resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire.
“I have been proclaiming and writing ever since 1935 that the final one of the seven eras of the Holy Roman Empire is coming in our generation—a ‘United States of Europe,’ combining 10 nations or groups of nations in Europe—with a union of church and state!” he wrote in the January 1979 issue of the Plain Truth. “The nations of Europe have been striving to become reunited. They desire a common currency; a single combined military force, a single united government. They have made a start in the Common Market. They are now working toward a common currency. Yet, on a purely political basis, they have been totally unable to unite. In only one way can this resurrected Holy Roman Empire be brought to fruition—by the ‘good offices’ of the Vatican, uniting church and state once again, with the Vatican astride and ruling.”