Rome and Berlin—Facing Up to War
At the same time that the Kunduz bombing has provided the German government with a clear reason to amend the Bundeswehr’s rules of engagement in battle, the Catholic Church is preparing for the German military to be placed on a war footing. The German Deutsche Welle headlined an article last Monday, “The Church Reaches Out to the Families of German Troops Abroad.”
The article mentioned that “the Catholic military bishopric has started a new program to help prepare families for the stresses of seeing loved ones sent away to conflict zones.” This is the first time the church has accepted such a role since World War ii. The reason is obvious. Over the past 10 years German troops have increasingly been placed in theaters of conflict outside Germany’s national borders.
Since the Balkan wars of the 1990s, Bundeswehr forces have been increasingly edging toward active combat in foreign battle zones. The challenge now, as German elites gear up to promote an EU agenda to build a combined European military force comparable to those of the United States and Russia, is to influence public opinion in Germany to support the nation’s troops increasingly engaging in combat.
The test case is Afghanistan. Along with the wake-up call to the German public and politicians that the publicity given to the Kunduz bombing has generated, the Catholic Church is launching an initiative to prepare for the inevitable: conditioning German soldiery spiritually for combat and preparing for the counseling of families of troops who will inevitably fall in battle.
Recently, religion has leaped into focus within the Bundeswehr courtesy of statements made by Germany’s minister of defense, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. During a recent interview with Germany’s Bild am Sontaag,Guttenberg confirmed that he is a “devout Christian” who prays regularly for his troops (Dec. 28, 2009). It is unusual for a senior minister of government in Germany to espouse his convictions so publicly and unashamedly. But Guttenberg fits anything other than the usual mold of the typical post-World War ii German government minister, most of whom have, at least publicly, asserted a more pluralist line.
This is the third time since World War ii that Germany has had a high-profile, dedicated Bavarian Roman Catholic in a high position in government, and the second for such to hold the Defense Ministry portfolio. Two of the three have held the post of chairman of the Bavarian-based Christian Socialist Union (csu)—Franz-Josef Strauss and Edmund Stoiber—both also having been prime minister of Bavaria, an office that the third, Guttenberg, former secretary general of the csu, is touted to soon fill. Both Strauss and now Guttenberg have held the senior government post of minister of defense. Intense devotion to the Catholic Church and a common vision of a united Catholic European Union has underpinned the political vision of all three.
A line of mentoring has threaded its way through the succession of these high-profile Bavarian politicians. It stems from Strauss as prime mentor to Stoiber, to Guttenberg as a political protégé of Stoiber. All three have espoused a common political vision of a United States of Europe, in addition to sharing a common ideology—Roman Catholicism—and a common dream of a Christian Europe, a vision that directly synchronizes with that of the Vatican, at this point also headed by a devout Bavarian, Joseph Ratzinger. That dream was clearly articulated by Dr. Otto von Habsburg in his treatise The Social Order of Tomorrow as being attached to a famous imperial symbol.
Dr. Habsburg declared that “symbolism has a far-reaching importance in political life …. Symbols express our deepest feelings and are a source of strength, particularly in difficult times.”
During World War i, German soldiers wore the symbol of the imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire on their belt buckles, surrounded by the insignia “Gott mit uns” (God with us). It was a powerful symbolic reminder of the cause for which they were fighting, the cause of “The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.”
Our editor in chief has on more than one occasion drawn attention to Habsburg’s declaration that “we do possess a European symbol which belongs to all nations equally. This is the crown of the Holy Roman Empire, which embodies the tradition of Charlemagne, the ruler of a united occident. … [T]he crown represents not merely the sovereignty of the monarch, but also the ties between authority and the people” (ibid.).
While implicitly endorsing the placement of that crown upon the head of a supreme authority as “European head of state … the protector of European law and justice,” Habsburg continues, “Europe needs a political constitution. … [S]uch a constitution requires a head of state …. [T]he necessary stability and freedom from party-political groupings could not be guaranteed by a presidential solution on American lines” (ibid.).
The European Union now has its constitution. It also has from January 1 a “presidential solution on American lines,” one that was imposed, in fact, by “party-political groupings.” Thus the EU has one further step to go if Habsburg’s vision is to be fulfilled. It has yet to have a supreme ruler who, in the imperial sense, “is crowned … in this sacred act … as the representative of the whole people” (ibid.).
What is it that makes the crowning of the supreme ruler of the Holy Roman Empire “sacred”? It is the fact that the crowning is the task of the supreme pontiff, the pope of Rome!
The unabashed public declaration of his devout Catholicism by Germany’s minister of defense, Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, in direct association with his declared prayers for German troops, and the public announcement that the Catholic Church is engaged in a new initiative geared to preparing both German troops to handle combat and their families to prepare for casualties, are but harbingers for Rome stepping up its efforts in the new year for a more aggressive proselytizing push across Europe.
In the process of this renewed Roman zealotry, watch for the Catholic royal houses of Europe to rise in popularity. Remember that there is a biblical prophecy (Revelation 17:12) that points to the prospect of 10 kings being subservient to one supreme ruler of the Holy Roman Empire in its seventh and final resurrection, a resurrection which leaped into perspective when its president took office on January 1.
Europe is facing a very tough year ahead as it seeks to balance the competing interests and demands of its 27 member nations in the face of increasing economic difficulties, in particular in its weaker eastern and southern economies. In tough times people often turn to religion. Watch for a powerful surge of activity from Rome to capitalize on this in 2010. And in the longer term, watch for the Vatican to endorse the future crusading efforts, especially against Islam, of a powerful German-led imperial European defense force!