Will the European Union Ever Be United?


Will the European Union Ever Be United?

One word describes the division of opinion over the EU as its 50th anniversary passes: confusion.

Munich—March 27, 2007

Back in Munich as Berlin copes with its hangover from a weekend of all-night raging in celebration of 50 years of progressive European Union, it’s time for reflection.

Having viewed the site of the infamous Dachau concentration camp, which lies within close proximity to this capital city of Bavaria, one is forced to reflect on the massive changes that Germany and the continent of Europe have undergone since the close of World War ii. Most of those changes have taken place under the spreading umbrella of an increasingly powerful entity we know today as the European Union

But just what was that celebration last weekend all about?

More importantly, behind all the hoopla of the partying in Berlin, the repeated photo calls for the 27 heads of nations, the roaring motorcades of shiny black Mercedes rushing to and fro across the city under the EU banner, the carefully chosen words by EU politicians seeking to convince the public that despite appearances of division, Europe was set for a golden future—a “new epoch,” as British Prime Minister Tony Blair glowingly called it—what was that crazy weekend all about? What was really going on behind the scenes as the Berlin Declaration was being drawn up? Are the nations of this monolithic European Union truly united?

Well, in the first instance, nothing has really been clarified by this diplomatically worded, appeasing document released to coincide with the EU’s 50th anniversary, the Berlin Declaration.

When it’s all boiled down, it comes to this. Britain, Poland and the Czech Republic still seem to be out of step with the mainstream of the EU. The pope definitely seems out in left field with his weekend railing accusation of EU apostasy. And one lone patriarch has the highest hopes of a great Christian revival on the Continent.

Whose assessment about the present position of the EU is right?

Well … probably all of them!

Britain, railroaded into what is now the European Union by Edward Heath convincing the British public of his blatant lie that the union was nothing more than an innocuous trading entity, has never really felt comfortable with its membership of the EU since it discovered that the EU is really about loss of national sovereignty to a federalizing, centralist, Brussels-based government. It has yet to come to terms with what to do about the oddity of its attachment to a continent with which it has little in common. The German ambassador to Britain has suggested that the best thing that nation could do is to up and leave the EU.

Poland is, one would think, certainly justified in being scared out of its wits of being once again dominated—even ultimately taken over—by the neighboring country that enslaved its population in the not-too-distant past, which coincidentally just happens to be the most powerful nation within the EU.

The Czech Republic would appear right also in its fears of the prospect of losing its national sovereignty to the EU seeking to impose a federalizing constitution upon both it and all 27 member nations of the EU. The Czechs appear to be quite justified in their view that a constitution is a document that lays the foundation for a singular sovereign entity, not a collection of sovereign nations. They read between the lines, quite correctly, that the mountain of regulations imposed upon them by Brussels is eating away at their precious national sovereignty, won back from Soviet tyranny barely 17 years ago.

Meanwhile, the secularists continue to lobby for the EU to remain unattached from the only spiritual connection that ever unified Europe in the past, the religion of Rome. Their efforts suggest that the pope is correct: The EU remains apostate from its traditional spiritual connection with Rome.

Even so, given all the above, that wily old patriarch of European unity, Archduke Otto von Habsburg, is profoundly right! He predicts a great revival of traditional Christianity in Europe. The signs are that has already started with a groundswell of admiration for the pope from the youth of Europe.

Ideological Gap

The fact is, there does exist an aching, gnawing spiritual gap within the EU. With the Union’s 50th anniversary come and gone, it has missed a golden opportunity to declare its underlying ideology—once clearly espoused by its founding Catholic fathers—in unambiguous terms within the Berlin Declaration. This despite the history that every movement in the past that has successfully welded the nations of Europe together in unity for its moment in time has declared attachment to an ideology, a spiritual dogma that has brought a semblance of unity among the great diversity of the peoples and cultures of the continent of Europe.

From Charlemagne to the French Revolution it was the religion of Rome. From Napoleon to Bismarck it was worship of the state. For Mussolini and Hitler it was the adoration of fascism and Nazism. From de Gaulle to Chirac, it has been the religion of secularism producing the pluralistic sovereign state. But this latter dogma is about to change.

President Chirac of France is now facing retirement. With him go the final vestiges of Gaullism. The secular faction within the EU is about to lose its champion. What will be the result?

Pope Benedict xvi has adopted an aggressive stance against the relativism of Europe’s secularist lobby. He is consistently and increasingly strident in his war of words on all that smacks of watering down of traditionalist Catholic doctrine. His appeal to the youth of the world gathers pace. The Vatican’s recent announcement of its intention to ratchet up its efforts to reach the masses with the pope’s crusading message to the world via the launching of its own global television network by year’s end demonstrates just how seriously Benedict is bent on a global Catholic crusade.

But this pope needs support troops, and in Rome’s previous crusades they have historically hailed from Europe. Hence Benedict’s recent resounding challenge to Europe’s leaders, implying that they stand condemned in God’s eyes, risking loss of that which he sees as their given destiny, unless they return to their traditional spiritual roots in Rome.

Having thrown down the gauntlet to terrorizing pan-Islamism during his Regensburg speech in September, the pope has now delivered the challenge to European leaders to turn back to Rome or risk losing any sense of the source of their heritage. He maintains that cause alone can bind this unwieldy combine of 27 nations together. In the pope’s eyes, without the glue of the religion of Rome, the EU risks falling apart!

“Pope Benedict said that the European Union today is built upon a cynical form of pragmatism that compromises on all principles, sacrificing fundamental ideals and undermining the dignity of human nature and freedom. If the Union is to have any lasting legal integrity, he said, it ‘must clearly recognize that human nature has something stable and permanent to it and that it is the source of common rights for all individuals, including even those who deny them’” (cwnews, March 26).

To show just how serious he is in seeking the attention of EU leaders, Benedict’s most cutting remark used a phrase akin to one he employed in condemnation of Rome’s greatest religious competitor, Islam, in that Regensburg speech. Of the EU he declared, “A community that is built without respect for the authentic dignity of human beings, that forgets that each person is created in God’s image, ends up not doing any one any good” (ibid., emphasis mine). That phrase is so close to the quote Benedict employed in Regensburg, asking, by inference, “can anything good come out of Islam,” that it virtually labels the EU apostate from Rome.

In essence, the pope has declared, by his speeches in September and this March, he is quite ready to wage a war on two fronts—one to counteract the spread of pan-Islamism, the other to take on EU leaders who resist Rome’s efforts to adopt the religion of Rome as its recognized state religion. Few see the reality of this. Yet this latest powerful condemnation of the EU, coming as it has at this most celebrated moment of its jubilee, is arresting the attention of each and every national leader within this unwieldy conglomerate called the European Union.

“If the European Union is to play a credible role in the 21st century, the pope argued, it can only do so with the ‘spark’ supplied by its cultural and spiritual heritage. Scolding the government leaders who failed to recognize that patrimony, the pontiff asked, ‘how can they exclude from Europe’s identity an essential element like Christianity in which a vast majority continues to identify themselves?’” (ibid.).

The Polish Pope John Paul ii’s battle cry was for a Europe divided between east and west, by the Berlin Wall, to breathe again with both its eastern and western lungs. He went to battle for that, and he won! Europe now breathes with both eastern and western lungs.

This present Bavarian Pope Benedict xvi now cries out for Europe’s spiritual spark to be lit, and he’s giving every indication of being just the man to light that spark! That spark will soon fire the imagination of another man. One for whom many within Europe admit there is a crying need to stimulate real progress with EU unity—a strong political personality. A leader who can readily identify with the battle cry of Pope Benedict and rise to the occasion to lead Europe to another hour of glory—or will it be, as so often has been the case through Europe’s painful history, another hour of infamy?

A visit to Dachau certainly leaves the question in one’s mind: If the right spark was lit, could it ever happen again?