The Pope Calls Europe Out of Darkness

From Pope Benedict XVI’s Wednesday (April 9th) audience, a segment on St. Benedict and Europe:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,… Writing in a time of turmoil and moral decadence following the fall of the Roman Empire, Pope Gregory believed that the life and Rule of Benedict could be a light leading the people of Europe out of darkness”. The Holy Father then reminded his listeners about the life of St. Benedict–his Rule was no romantic ideal of contemplative life, rather it included the necessity of meeting concrete human needs. (Prayer is first, but a close second is rolling up your sleeves!)

Then he said, “Having just emerged from a century profoundly marked by two world wars and following the collapse of the great ideologies, … Europe today is searching for its own identity”, he said. (Translation: Europe, you are SO lost!)

I’m struck by this warning–it’s timeliness. Darkness shrouds Europe, even as the Brussels bureaucrats design a new palace (literally!) for the propsed president of a United Europe. Europe is in a demographic death spiral: abortion, euthanasia, homosexual “marriages” embryonic stem cell projects and cloning –all symptoms of the Culture of Death –are dragging Europe into the Styx.

I just returned from the Tocqueville Forum at Georgetown University (see immediate prior post). There I met a British bio-ethicist, Dr. John Keown. He described his decision to come to GU “in hopes of warning America not to follow Europe.”

In Dr. Keown’s view, “It is over for France, Spain and Italy. Unless immediate and drastic measures are adopted, it is over for England too. ”

One is put in mind of John Henry Cardinal Newman’s verses on England:

He who scanned Sodom for His righteous men
Still spares thee for thy ten;
But, should vain tongues the Bride of Heaven defy,
He will not pass thee by;
For, as earth’s kings welcome their spotless guest,
So gives He them by turn, to suffer or be blest.

Properly Scared is sacred.

Yet, not everyone is glum …at least about England. Fr. Aiden Nichols was interviewed by Zenit about his new book,“The Realm: An Unfashionable Essay on the Conversion of England”. The entire interview is well worth your time. Here is a snippet:

Q: You challenge the assumption that Protestantism is an essential mark of the character of England. In what ways was Catholicism central to the making of England, and what does the Church offer today that can remake it?

Father Nichols: Protestantism was central to the attempt to remake English identity under Elizabeth Tudor; to the reaction against the Catholicizing tendencies of the Stuarts after the Restoration of the monarchy; and to the project of welding England and Scotland together as a united “Britain” over and against France, after the union of Parliaments at the beginning of the 18th century.

But the almost 1,000 years of Catholic Christianity that preceded any of that are responsible for the origins of the English literary imagination, for the principles of the common law, for the concept of a covenanted people under God which permeates the induction of a sovereign, and for the range of virtues which have been commended — and sometimes practiced — in English culture and society.

What the faith of the Catholic Church can offer today is an intellectual, moral, and imaginative framework for the salvaging of these virtues, and their re-energizing by sacramental grace.

The crucial truth is that last phrase, “and their re-energizing by sacramental grace.” What is missing in areas where darkness grows quickly is precisely that, Sacramental Grace. Where churches are empty, where people abandon the practice of their faith, there are so few souls in whom sacramental grace resides. [ “At abandoned altars, demons dwell.” …Ernst Junger]

On the matter of Islam in England’s immediate future Fr. Nichols has a clear objective. Read it here


3 Responses

  1. Europe is different. It has lived through horrors Americans cannot imagine. Many asked “Where is God?”

  2. Europe is different? Yes, Europe had longer to know and live according to the bible and the Church.

    Seems to me that Europe should not ask Where Is God but should ask Why Did We Leave God?

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