Pope invited to address EU Parliament
The invitation was extended by Hans-Gert Poettering, former chairman of the EPP and now President of the European Parliament, during a private audience with the Pope at the Vatican. In this 50th anniversary year, the subject is to be the Pope’s favourite – that of the dialogue between religions and cultures, including the role religions can play in dialogue based on truth and tolerance. It will doubtless include a reiteration of the demand to mention God and the Continent’s Christian roots in the EU Constitution - an objective still pursued by Chancellor Merkel. His Holiness has recently reiterated his view that without this acknowledgement of the divine, the EU will be ‘godless’, and sleepwalking into the twilight.
This will be the second time a pope has addressed the European Parliament; the first came in 1988, when John Paul II addressed all MEPs in Strasbourg. The occasion was interrupted by the Rev Dr Ian Paisley, who denounced the Pope as the Antichrist. In a bizarre replay of ages past, he was ushered out of the chamber by Otto von Habsburg, the self-appointed defender of papal authority.
Cranmer has just one observation at this point: The Pope is German, Chancellor Merkel is German, and Mr Poettering is German. Is it not all getting a little ‘clubby’?