The Holy Father gave a splendid address to the European Parliament on the glorious past and the uncertain future of the old continent. He wisely did not fail to mention the importance of man’s need for the transcendent, nor how we must value all life (very especially that which is most vulnerable), nor how we cannot overlook the horrendous ongoing barbarities being committed against our persecuted Christian brethren in many places of the rest of the world and look for ways to help them, plus many other pertinent matters concerning Christianity in Europe. However, what he did not say was that nothing can be achieved without our humble and profound belief that Europeans, and indeed all Mankind, must first acknowledge Our Blessed Lord and Saviour as God and King. Of course he was talking to many people who are not Catholic (perhaps not even Christian) who could then be (ahem) offended by such an outright display of Catholicity, but would not such a first step towards recovering Europe’s lost heart in the recognition of this timeless Truth stem its steady falling away into an abyss of secularism?
In 1924 Catholic author Hilaire Belloc pronounced these words: “Europe is the Faith, and the Faith is Europe.” Fine words indeed. Yet one look around at the religious apathy Europe is fast sinking into, one wonders what Belloc would have to say today, 90 years later, about the continent he so loved and admired!
There is much hope for the Church in other continents of course, as the Holy Father pointed out. As ageing Europe abandons its Christian identity, growing more secular and agnostic with every passing year, we are seeing an amazing and joyful surge and spread of the Catholic Faith in other younger continents – most notably in Africa and Asia. Whilst Europe at the same time, passing ever more blatantly anti-Christian laws through its Parliaments and assemblies, has been witnessing a rapid decline of the Faith in its members, especially in the last 50 years or so. (Reports also note a decline of Christianity in the US, Australia and other Western nations, but in Europe this is, according to statistics, advancing more rapidly.) Pockets of resistance, i.e. traditional Catholic groups and religious orders, still boldly hold out to proclaim Catholic values and truths, but it is becoming increasingly obvious to many that the overwhelming numbers opposing us are legion and growing in hostility.
The Kingship of Christ and His Holy Cross are two pivotal Catholic teachings that have been either degraded and scorned by the enemies of Christ, or forgotten and simply misunderstood by many of the still nominally Christian Europeans today. In a very insightful post on Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II last week, Louie Verrechio points to the “uncrowning” of Christ (placing the doctrinal teaching of the Kingship of Christ onto a “back burner” at the Council) as the root of the decay that started to spread this betrayal of men to their true Lord and King.
He says: “In reality, the Kingship of Christ was never ours to give, nor is it ours to take away. Christ is King. He does have a social reign. It is only for us to avoid preaching the Social Kingship of Christ at our own peril, and that is precisely what we are doing….In my view, by placing the Social Kingship of Christ on the back burner, our sacred hierarchs effectively abandoned the mission of the Church.” This is a hard hitting truth!
Many observe that the very first rotten seed of Europe’s decline was sown with the humanistic cries at the French Revolution; others say it goes back even further, to the satanical attack on Christ’s Mystical Body at the time of the Protestant rebellion [known as the Reformation, though ‘Deformation’ would be a better word]. However, Europe was still in the main a Catholic Christian continent, producing outstanding Popes and bishops, saints and heros, writings, musica sacra, art and architecture, whilst many great and famous men of notable talent during the 19th and early 20th centuries converted from Protestantism to the One True Church.
The real rot has now come to fruition in the post Vatican II era, with the fundamental truth that CHRIST IS KING being ignored (if not totally removed) from our teaching of the Faith, bringing down the whole structure of catechesis and religious instruction of the young, and causing it to crumble. Catholic teaching, having lost its corner stone, the Sovereignty of Christ as Pope Pius XI states in Quas Primas (this in 1925 as a response to the world’s increasing secularisation and nationalism), the significance of such lofty ideals of honouring our Sovereign King by living our own lives with virtue, sacrifice, morality, and most especially, acceptance of our own daily cross, no longer made any proper sense and were no longer comprehended. Catholic Liturgy: the sublime and magnificent Traditional Latin Mass, that gave such honour and reverence to the Sovereign King, was replaced with a far inferior Mass in the vernacular. Social justice was enthusiastically rammed into young heads instead (though even this fundamental Catholic ideal has been hijacked by liberals and reduced to nothing more than a form of human ethics) whilst central Catholic doctrines, devotions etc., were simply cast aside!
Knowing all this, is it really any wonder that Catholic Christianity has declined so fast in Europe? How can the vast majority of today’s Europeans, born post WWII, many who have never been taught the True Faith, be expected to know, love and serve the Sovereign King of Mankind, Who is more or less an absolute stranger to them?
When the European Union’s first constitution was being written up in 2003, there was strong division among the European nations and a heated debate about whether to include or not the undeniable fact that Europe was built on a Christian heritage. Catholic primate of Hungary, Msgr. Peter Erdoe, was quoted as saying at the time: “Without Christianity, the heart of Europe would be missing.” The secularists were the victors, and the Constitution was written without any mention of Europe’s Christian roots.
Europe had, in effect, finally lost its heart.
Hungary is, I believe, the only country left in Europe to still retain a reference to a past Christian heritage in its own constitution. “It is abundantly clear now—too late—that the faithful would have done well to heed Pope John Paul II’s reiterated call to insist, indeed to fight, for a mention of Europe’s Christian heritage in the European Constitution (see his 2003 apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Europa). Had Europe’s historical Christian roots been acknowledged in the EU’s founding documents, as John Paul pleaded they be, we would now have a solid foundation on which to base our resistance to media and political pressure to adopt laws that fly in the face of Europe’s identity and tradition.” (Catholic World Report “Amid EU Criticism, Hungary Remains Resolute”)
Europe is becoming pagan! And yet… everything in our lifestyles here is based on our Catholic past. Both in cities and small villages, field or forrest, on mountain tops to valleys below, Catholic Europe remains awash with events, symbols and landmarks wherever one looks of its glorious Christian past. Gradually and surreptitiously even these holy symbols are being attacked and destroyed, and later on will be replaced by more inclusive ones – usually some hideous iron or concrete construction of modern art. We see this happen increasingly with our own eyes!
“Know this: just as the wood of the ark saved the just from drowning, so too, by the mystery of His wooden Cross, does Christ, the Church’s God and King, save us from drowning in the sea of this world. In the symbol of a thing made of wood He gave human beings a foreshadowing of both the judgment to come and the salvation of the just” said St. Augustine.
We are drowning, truly drowning in a sea of godless secularism! Below are just two recent stories out of many coming from European countries bent on denying the “Church’s God and King” and the Holy Cross of Christ.
The emblemic cross on top of Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain, was cut down a few days ago by unknown vandals. This is a wild place; what hateful purpose must have made these enemies of the cross climb all the way up the mountain with a heavy battery-driven saw to cut through the hard iron and bring the cross down! And now a group representing atheists has said it objects to plans for a new one being placed there, although there are estimates that over 90% of the people are in favour of reinstating a new cross.
In Spain, the Real Madrid football club has removed the cross from its crest that used to be on the credit cards that its Muslim sponsor Abu Dhabi produce – all for fear of offending these wealthy sponsors! Quote from the organisation denouncing this action (my translation): “Without understanding how the cross could offend anyone, what we do know is that many Christians are being persecuted by islamic fundamentalists, and that this is not the first renunciation of the Club of its [Christian] identity in exchange for important economic benefits.”
May we lift up our prayers and supplications to Our Lord and Saviour, His Blessed Mother, all the angels and saints, hammering at Heaven’s door to assist us to be faithful Catholics, strong in virtue and courageous, so one day we may restore the lost heart to Europe with the re-enthronement of Christ as Sovereign King of all Mankind.