EU Anniversary—Crisis Before Solution?
Berlin—March 25, 2007
“Let them eat cake,” Marie-Antoinette, the wife of Louis xvi of France is reputed to have declared as the peasants clamored for a say in their future. In what appeared to be a rerun of the Marie-Antoinette approach to the masses, German Chancellor Angela Merkel threw a hugely expensive birthday bash for the public in Berlin, turning on the beer and Bratwurst and flinging open the doors of Berlin’s infamous discos to an all-night rage on the weekend of the 50th anniversary of the European Union.
If the idea was to keep the masses occupied so they wouldn’t notice what was occurring down the road with the signing of the vacuous Berlin Declaration at the German Historical Museum, then on present indications, she needn’t have bothered.
Berlin’s weekend newspapers carried stories of the ho-hum attitude of much of the city to the EU’s 50th anniversary celebrations. It seems that the public at large are fairly cynical when it comes to expressing views on the bloated EU bureaucracy that rules their lives from Brussels, constantly passing a plethora of regulations that place ever-greater constraints on their lives, endorsed by EU representatives in whose election to power they have no real say, who hold regular meetings at great cost to the taxpayer, during which much is discussed but very little ever concluded.
“Public support for membership has declined in many states because of fears the EU is failing to protect workers from globalization, eroding national identities and meddling excessively in national affairs. A poll taken for the Euroskeptical Open Europe think tank found nearly half of citizens in the euro zone would rather go back to the old national currencies they gave up in 2002” (Reuters, March 24).
It is under a rising cloud of not only public dissent as to the real worth of the European Union, but also of increasing rifts on EU policy between a number of member nations, that Angela Merkel brought the 27 leaders of the EU nations together to witness the signing of what has become known as the Berlin Declaration. This document consists of two pages of prose that have been painfully constructed to ensure that the most burning issues that currently lie in the EU president’s too-hard basket are not mentioned.
Two of these have been avoided like the plague by the document’s drafters. No specific reference is made to the European Constitution, already signed by all member nations but not ratified by all of them, and no reference is made to the religion that has provided the EU with its system of values from its inception by its Roman Catholic founding fathers.
This latter omission has brought the Bavarian Pope Benedict xvi out of his Vatican cloisters like a raging bull!
When informed of the omission of any reference to the Catholic and Christian roots of Europe in the very document that was to espouse the European Union’s fundamental values, Benedict rounded on EU leaders with a stream of criticism that is bound to shake the current EU presidency to its boot heels—or high heels, in Merkel’s case.
“In a speech to European bishops on Saturday, Pope Benedict accused the EU of apostasy for refusing to mention Christianity in the Berlin Declaration. Asking how leaders could hope to get closer to their citizens if they denied such an essential part of European identity, the head of the Roman Catholic Church said: ‘Does not this unique form of apostasy of itself, even before God, lead it (Europe) to doubt its very identity?’” (ibid.).
No pope has ever issued such a stinging criticism of those charged with the project of uniting Europe since the launching of the drive for centralized government on the continent 50 years ago at the signing of the Treaty of Rome. Then, Rome was chosen for the signing ceremony for its close identity with the foundational Roman Catholic values that had united Europe so often in the past under the institution of the Holy Roman Empire. Fifty years later, the Berlin Declaration gives the appearance of a European Union that has deliberately distanced itself from its very own religious roots.
This has the pope hopping mad!
To accuse European leaders of apostasy is the ultimate insult that could be issued by the most powerful religious leader in the world. This is bound to get the attention of European national presidents, prime ministers, politicians and the boffins of the Brussels bureaucracy.
And that is just what this pope wants.
EU officials know that the Vatican, under Benedict’s leadership, has real clout—real political clout. They cannot afford to get this powerfully influential religious leader offside.
But that is where Benedict stands right now! Offsidethe whole EU governing apparatus, with spiritual sword drawn. The pope’s blood is up for a mighty crusading effort to sweep Europe back into Rome’s fold—and he’s not going to back down. Benedict very deliberately rained on the EU’s 50th anniversary parade. His remarks were a real downer on the occasion of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Treaty of Rome. They could hardly have been timed better for maximum effect.
But look a little closer. Something is definitely afoot!
Creating the Crisis—Posing the Solution
We have often quoted British political economist Rodney Atkinson’s claim that German politicians are expert at creating a crisis and then posing the most ideal solution in their nation’s own best interests.
There may indeed be a method to what appears to be Merkel’s madness in drafting this Berlin Declaration behind closed doors, a tactic that has gained her a degree of criticism from some EU member states.
Remember Merkel telling Pope Benedict, during his visit to Bavaria last year, she believed the European Constitution should make reference to God and the EU’s Christian values? We believe she still holds to that position.
It so happened that Hans-Gert Poettering, president of the European Parliament and, at the time, leader of its influential Catholic center-right movement, also told the pope last year that his group was determined to see the spiritual dimension of the European project written into the European Constitution. At the time, Poettering described the European Constitution to the pope as “holy text.”
Merkel and Poettering are two of the three EU gurus chosen to sign the Berlin Declaration. Jose Manuel Barroso, the secularist European Commission president, is the other.
Intriguingly, on the very eve of EU leaders gathering in Berlin to witness the signing of the seemingly irreligious Berlin Declaration, who do we find having an audience with the pope? None other than one of the prospective signatories to the Berlin Declaration, Hans-Gert Poettering. And what was Poettering doing in Rome while the other EU leaders gathered in Berlin? Issuing the pope an official invitation to personally address the European Parliament.
Early on in discussions surrounding the planning of the EU anniversary, it was proposed that Pope Benedict might be present in Berlin for the anniversary celebrations. But he could hardly take part in celebrations over the signing of an EU declaration on the values of that institution if his religion was completely ignored in that document. Hence, the invitation to come to the European Parliament after the main event—to put things right!
In the pope’s present crusading mood, could you see him declining such an opportunity? I think not!
It may yet turn out that, far from being remembered for a Berlin Declaration with all of its religious teeth pulled, the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome may well be remembered as the occasion when the pope accepted an invitation to ride his crusading horse into the heart of the main legislating body of the European Union and sell that body, once and for all, on the need to write Rome’s religion—the “religious roots” of Europe—into the very heart and core of a revived constitution.
This is the card that we think Merkel and Poettering have now played.
What gives this theory extra credence is hearing that grand old statesman of the European Union, Archduke Otto von Habsburg, state, during the weekend’s EU celebrations, that he is convinced Europe faces a great revival of Christianity.
Why would this 94-year-old committed Europhile, so deeply embedded in EU political society, having contact with the most influential movers and shakers on the continent, make such a public statement unless he really knew what was going on behind the scenes? No one has followed the tortuous path of Europe through its post-war revival to become the mightiest trading entity in the world more closely than this wise old man of Europe. We believe his most recent public statement has significant credibility in terms of a pending and powerful crusade by Pope Benedict xvi and his coterie of conservative cardinals to mount the most dramatic crusade for the revival of Catholic Europe since the Middle Ages.
The EU has now plainly revealed a crying need for spiritual leadership to fill the gnawing gap in its constitution with EU leaders unable to agree on writing their traditional god, and religion, into the pending European Constitution. The Berlin Declaration is an open challenge to the supremacy of the religion of Rome in Europe. The pope has met that challenge head on, and the EU has responded with an open invitation for him to come to its parliament and fix the problem. This provides the pope with an open door to peddle his spiritual wares directly to the main legislating body of the European Union.
Should the Parliament seize the moment and railroad the endorsing of the religion of Rome into its constitution, the EU’s spiritual gap may well be filled by official recognition of the pope’s religion as the state religion of the European Union. And remember, should this occur, the laws that the European Parliament makes trump all domestic law within its member nations.
Get the point?
We may yet see the day when the European Parliament endorses a singular state religion at the behest of this pope!
Angela Merkel has been careful to couch references to the need for a new start to the issue of declaring European values within the Berlin Declaration in verbiage such that it can be interpreted as a green light by those EU leaders seeking for religion to be bound up in the European Constitution. The deadline she has set to achieve this by is the year 2009. The current German presidency of the EU is determined to leave the next holder of the rotational presidency, Portugal, with a clear mandate to pursue agreement by all EU members to commit to the 2009 goal by the end of this year.
Could our German friends be at it again?
Could the legacy of this German presidency of the EU in fact be the creation of the very crisis for which a Bavarian pope has already been invited to pose a solution—the raging argument as to whether the EU should remain secular, or finally acknowledge its true religious roots?
The EU’s major crisis, at this point, is simply a crisis of values. That crisis was highlighted in Berlin this past weekend by the disappearance of any reference to the EU’s religious roots in the Berlin Declaration. Its nature was powerfully dramatized on the same weekend by Pope Benedict himself condemning the EU for this omission. And on that same weekend, an invitation was issued in Rome for the pope to enter the inner sanctum of the European Union to declare the solution to this conundrum.
It may be evident to few, but mark our words. History was written this past weekend in Berlin and Rome. Watch now for the values crisis to become a core issue within the EU. Especially watch for the pope’s upcoming address to the European Parliament. It is an event you definitely should not miss! Believe it or not, your very future could be powerfully affected by the outcome.