A political institution at its roots, the Roman Catholic Church is excelling itself in swinging the vote within former Soviet states to support membership of the European Union. The Czech Republic is the latest nation to heed the papal call to a “yes” vote, one of seven to respond to priestly admonitions to vote in favor of a return to their former cultural and spiritual “roots.”
“Czech voters have watched as Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Malta have given their blessing to EU entry, though in some cases pro-EU support risked being undermined by low turnout” (Reuters, June 12).
This risk of low turnout prompted the Vatican to direct parish priests to formally encourage the electorate of those nations to vote the Vatican way by announcements from the pulpit on Sunday mornings preceding the vote.
In the Polish Pope John Paul ii’s home country, voter turnout was put at risk by well-organized anti-EU political parties.
Under the headline “Poles Do as the Pope Tells Them,” the European Foundation Intelligence Digest reported on “remarks made by the pope on May 18 in which he said that he wanted Poland to join the EU …. Although the pope also said that Euroskeptics had valid views, his pro-EU remarks were broadcast on every news bulletin in Poland between the date they were made and the date of the election (June 7-8). This meant that a large number of older voters, who might otherwise have been expected to vote no, changed their minds and voted yes …. The pro-EU propaganda was relentless …” (June 8). This papally inspired propaganda won the day for the “yes” vote in Poland.
During his recent 100th international trip since gaining office, the pope also campaigned for the EU in Croatia. Thus the wheel turns full circle. It was the pope’s endorsement of the German initiative to recognize Croatia and Slovenia as states separate to greater Yugoslavia that helped spark the Balkan wars of the 1990s. With the EU’s rapid reaction force slated to take over Balkan security from nato, the whole peninsula will soon become, for security and defense purposes, ensconced within the EU.
Already funding Balkan reconstruction following the wars of the ’90s, the EU for all intents and purposes has control of the peninsula economically and politically. It remains but for a cultural and spiritual glue to be poured over these fractious Balkan states to solidify them into a semblance of stability. Enter the Vatican.
Says Pope John Paul ii, “Croatia has recently asked to become an integral part, also from the political and economic point of view, of the great family of the European peoples. I can only express my hope that this aspiration will be happily realized: The rich tradition of Croatia will surely contribute to strengthening the Union as an administrative and territorial unit, and also as a cultural and spiritual reality” (Holy See Press Office, June 5).
Thus will be accomplished, by Croatia’s response to the pope’s propaganda, Berlin and Rome’s vision of possession of the strategic Balkan Peninsula.
These political moves on the part of the Vatican show how religion is driving the unification of Europe—just as it has throughout history, and is prophesied in the Bible to do again.