For decades now, Christian leaders—especially those in the Catholic hierarchy—have capitulated to the secularist whims of politicians and representatives of bodies like the United Nations and the European Union. This has left Christian Europe defenseless in the face of a barrage of hedonist policies—things such as abortion, same-sex unions, and transgenderism. What’s more, refusal to recognize such things as ‘human rights’—because they violate our beliefs and go against our Christian conscience, has led to Christians increasingly being ostracized as religious fanatics.
Europe now faces a grave existential threat, with both external and internal threats—that is, from both atheistic and radical Islamists as well as its inability and unwillingness to defend its Christian identity and its Judeo-Christian roots.
Defending Islam—but not Christianity
This past October, as the Islamic world celebrated the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, a Tunisian migrant stormed the Basilica of Notre Dame in Nice, France, shouting “Allahu Akbar” as he killed three people. Two of the victims were decapitated. Just a couple of weeks prior, Samuel Paty, a history teacher in a suburb of Paris, was beheaded by a Muslim in reaction to a classroom lesson in which Paty, making a point about the importance of free speech, showed some caricatures of the Prophet to his students.
Pope Francis condemned both attacks as barbarous—but refused to acknowledge that they had anything to do with Islam, notwithstanding the Quranic tenet that calls for the killing of anyone who criticizes or questions Allah, his Prophet, or Islam. Sura 6, 93—just one of many relevant passages—states:
And if you could but see when the wrongdoers are in the overwhelming pangs of death while the angels extend their hands, [saying] “Discharge your souls! Today you will be awarded the punishment of [extreme] humiliation [death] for what you used to say against Allah other than the truth and [that] you were, toward His verses, being arrogant.
Remarking about the killings in Nice on behalf of the pope, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, told reporters:
It’s a moment of pain, in a time of confusion. Terrorism and violence must never be tolerated. Today’s attack sowed death in a place of love and consolations, such as the house of the Lord. The pope is informed of the situation and is close to the grieving Catholic community.
At the same time, Saudi Arabia’s senior council of clerics issued a statement saying that it condemned the killings, too. Yet they indicated that such actions were to be expected since defamation of the Prophet Muhammad serves extremists who want to spread hatred. This certainly appears to be the Church’s current position as well, particularly under the pontificate of Pope Francis.
In his latest encyclical Fratelli tutti, the Bishop of Rome berated Christians—but no one else—for “destructive forms of fanaticism … [using] verbal violence through the internet and the various forums of digital communication … [that are nothing other than] defamation and slander.” This message could—and should—be extended to other religious fanatics, so the Pontiff’s focus on Christians alone is disappointing. Unfortunately, such short-sightedness is shared by others within the Church.
Five years ago, 12 staff members of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris were also killed for publishing caricatures of the Prophet. The Osservatore Romano—the Vatican’s official newspaper—blasted the series of cartoons as “blasphemous.” When the satirical journal reprinted the “controversial caricatures of Muhammad” just over a month ago, Catholic jurist Giuseppe della Torre (who happened to be one of my canon law professors at the Pontifical Lateran University) blasted Charlie Hebdo, saying: “[I]t is not lawful for anyone to offend the legitimate and deepest of others, starting with family affections.”
As Muslim mobs raged in anger against the cartoons, Pope Francis replied by saying that there were limits to offending and ridiculing the faiths and beliefs of others. In an apparent justification f such anger, he said:
It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others. Each religion has its dignity. I cannot make fun of it.
The paradox is that Pope Francis—and most cardinals and bishops—have been relatively silent when it comes to defending the Christian faith when the same Charlie Hebdo has printed caricatures mocking Jesus Christ or the Blessed Virgin Mary. (and it has done so repeatedly over the years.)
The satirical journal—which is militantly atheistic—has printed caricatures that depict the Lord on the Cross, saying: “Je suis une célébrité … sortez-moi de là!” (I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!). Another one portrayed the Three Divine Persons engaged in sodomy with each other.
Where are the Catholic Church officials on this!? Why have Catholics not raised a fuss when such blasphemous vulgarity of our faith has appeared?
The Vatican did speak out on another matter: Pope Francis’ official Instagram account appears to have ‘liked’ a picture of adult entertainer Nata Gata dressed in stockings and suspenders. Although it was unclear when the pope’s official account gave the model his ‘blessing’, the ‘like’ was still visible on November 13—before being ‘unliked’ the following day.
One can at least say that Muslims, despite tending to be more offended by the cartoons of their Prophet than by the recent beheadings, will defend their religion. The Grand Imam Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb—a personal friend of Pope Francis and a source of inspiration for Fratelli tutti—has even called for the drafting of international legislation that would criminalize acts of discrimination and hate directed at Muslims, and has accused those who “justify insulting the prophet of Islam” of hypocrisy. In contrast, Christians and Christian leaders seem not to care enough to protest similar blasphemy when directed against their own religion.
Repercussions of atheistic democracy
Today’s societies are shockingly anti-Christian. Even our present-day Church seems to be biased against the very faith at its core. The words of Matthew the Evangelist seems quite apt: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8: 20). Part of this, of course, is due to the rampant secularism that has spread through Western democracies and across Europe, in the process eradicating our fundamental Christian anthropology.
Unlike the democracy of the United States, which is based on the ‘Laws of Nature and Nature’s God’—an archaic term for the natural law and the divine moral precepts—in continental Europe, democracy is rooted in the Enlightenment of the 18th century. It dictates that human reason alone is the source of authority and legitimacy for governmental norms and individual freedom. And several Enlightenment thinkers methodically restructured and eventually eliminated natural law as a prescriptive guide for human action.
In the 20th century, the rise and spread of positivism—essentially the idea that all knowledge is based on the “positive” data of experience—facilitated the removal of the concept of natural law from more areas of our lives. The jurist Hans Kelsen, who was a fierce opponent of the natural law, held that a law could never be morally justified. He taught that in a democracy, the law’s commands are directed most fundamentally at officials of the legal system—that is, judges—and told them what sanctions to apply to citizens on the basis of the latter’s conduct. Therefore, laws had to be obeyed simply because they were authoritative (not because they were necessarily moral).
It was such anti-Christian and positivist notions that successfully crept into the constitutions of nearly all European countries (with the exception of Hungary) during the 20th century. It was facilitated and supported by the ‘craftiness’ of the United Nations, the agencies of the European Union, and other supranational and multilateral organizations. The result has been the aggressive and wide-scale eradication of Christianity from European society and the lives of its citizens, reducing it in many cases to a subjective expression of faith.
Europe embedded in Christianity
While it is evidently true that Christianity did not start in Europe—and therefore cannot technically be classified as a European religion—it has, as Pope Benedict XVI once said, received “in Europe its most effective cultural and intellectual imprint and remains, therefore, identified in a special way with Europe.”
This recognition transcends denominations. Darris McNeely, a pastor with the United Church of God, has demonstrated, for example, how Europe became a civilized society because of Christianity—through St. Benedict and the monastic order he founded. McNeely writes:
Benedict lived at a time when the Roman Empire was collapsing, and he saw the role of the church as to preserve the best in human culture throughout the centuries. The whole world was crumbling, and Benedict helped ensure that human civilization survived.
Similarly, in a reference to St. Benedict during Benedict XVI’s first general audience on April 27, 2005, the pope explained:
The gradual expansion of the Benedictine Order … had an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity across the Continent. … [St. Benedict] constitutes a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe, and a powerful call to the irrefutable Christian roots of European culture and civilization.
Regrettably, because of the silence of the Catholic Church—an institution which by rights should act as the voice of Christian Europe—European Christians have practically been abandoned. As Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has stated:
The Church is dying because Her Pastors are afraid to speak in all truth and clarity. We are afraid of the media, afraid of public opinion, afraid of our won brethren! The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep.
If Christian Europe is going to have a future, then we need to reinvigorate the faith across Europe. We need to, as former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once said, “look upon [our]elves as … a creative minority, and help Europe to reclaim what is best in its heritage and … place itself at the service of all humankind.” Failing this, the European continent will irrevocably become even more of a barren land—rootless, devoid of all faith, and empty of the religion and culture which created it. ◼️