Pope: EU is committing ‘a form of apostasy’
There, however, the coincidence ends. Cranmer prophesied the EU was ‘doomed to failure’ because of its diminution of the nation state and the lack of a distinctly European demos; the Pope prophesied ‘oblivion’ because the EU failed to mention God or Europe's Christian roots in The Berlin Declaration to mark the 50th anniversary of its founding.
That God should get a mention in the EU Constitution was a favoured theme of Pope John Paul II, because this was the ‘very soul’ of the continent. Pope Benedict is simply perpetuating the dream of Rome, and he asks: ‘If on the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome the governments of the union want to get closer to their citizens, how can they exclude an element as essential to the identity of Europe as Christianity, in which the vast majority of its people continue to identify?... Does not this unique form of apostasy of itself, even before God, lead it (Europe) to doubt its very identity?’
It is this ‘identity’ that divides Protestants and Roman Catholics, and even the Jesuit-educated Dr Richard North has observed this principal fissure:
The question of whether references to Christianity should be included in the European Constitution had come up before with the countries dividing mostly but not exclusively along Catholic/Protestant lines, though ultimately the suggestion was blocked by President Chirac for political rather than religious reasons. Much of post-1789 French history has been taken up with battles between the Church and the State with the latter now in firm ascendance.
And Cranmer likes the observations of Dutchman Derk-Jan Eppink, who worked behind the scenes of the European Commission in Brussels. He said: ‘I arrived in 1984 as a Calvinist, I'm leaving in 2007 as a Jesuit’, referring to the differences between the principle-driven approach of the protestant Dutch and the devious conspiracies which are sometimes attributed to the Roman Catholic order of the Jesuits. But this is the modus operandi of the EU, and the tendency is to ‘get sucked in’. Indeed, one tends to lose one’s job, or find oneself indefinitely suspended, if one fails to conform.
The Pope's compatriot, Chancellor Angela Merkel, has made consistent pleas for the revived Constitution to include references to Christianity. This has led the Pope’s co-religionists across the Union to once again echo the call. Italy’s Romano Prodi said he had pushed for inclusion of 'Catholic roots' in the document but that ‘the main task ahead for Catholics was to carry on a dialogue with religions like Islam and Judaism’ (Note the supplanting of 'Christian' with 'Catholic', for therein lies the concern of many Protestants...)
But the EPP, which Mr Iain Dale has established is Roman Catholic to the core, has taken matters into its own hands by including mention of the EU’s religious roots in its own anniversary declaration: ‘Europe's Judeo-Christian roots and common cultural heritage, as well as the classic and humanist history of Europe and the achievements of the period of enlightenment, are the foundation of our political family,’ said the EPP statement, adopted at a meeting attended by Chancellor Merkel and other EU leaders.
Pope Benedict warned the bloc could not deny its ‘historical, cultural and moral identity’ that Christianity helped to forge. He continued: ‘A community that builds itself without respecting the true dignity of the human being, forgetting that each person is created in the image of God, ends up doing good for no one.’
Now, who said the EU was about mere matters of economics and trade?