Why a ‘peace pope’ could get behind a Europe preparing for war

Twenty years ago, September 2001 brought brief-lived sense of, “We’re all Americans now.” September 2021 seems to be sowing the impression, “We’ve got to be Europeans now, because America just cut us loose.”

As one possible sign of something fundamental moving, French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly has signaled that he may be willing to reconsider long-rebuffed German requests to split France’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council in exchange for support for a common EU foreign policy and defense system.

If there is a unique moment now for Europe to get its act together, the foundation of any common political project almost certainly would have to lie in some form of Christian humanism, [in other words, Catholicism, but bringing the protestants along too] even if no one in 21st century western Europe would dare say so out loud. Christian humanism was the foundation upon which the EU was originally constructed, and it remains the lone European cultural achievement strong enough to sustain anything other than economic prosperity.

The take-away is that the next few months may be decisive in terms of whether Europe can develop a political infrastructure capable of undergirding von der Leyden’s desire for enhanced military capacity. In that effort, the Catholic Church across Europe, and especially the Vatican, could play a decisive role.

For decades, the Vatican has wanted a more independent, assertive Europe, one that can provide a genuine global counterweight to both the United States and Russia and China. Granted, the idea of a more robust military may not exactly be the Vatican’s preferred method, especially under a “peace pope” such as Francis, but the objective is nevertheless a longstanding Vatican idée fixe.