Pope Francis gave an interview to the 93 year old atheist Eugenio Scalfari who, when he was young, was a Fascist and then later a Socialist and, in previous interviews with the Pope didn’t take notes or make recordings.
In La Repubblica:
Last Thursday I received a phone call from Pope Francis. It was about noon and I was at the paper with my phone rang and a voice greeted me: it was His Holiness. I recognized him immediately. “Could you come over today? At 4?” I’ll be there for sure.
I dashed home and at 3:44 I was in the little sitting room at Santa Marta [Isn’t this riveting?]. The Pope came in a minute later. We embraced and then, seated facing each other, we started to swap idea, feelings, analyses of what is going on in the Church and then in the world.
Pope Francis told me that he was very worried about the summit meeting of the G20. “I’m afraid that there will be very dangerous alliances between Powers that have distorted visions of the world: America and Russia, China and North Korea, Russia and Assad in the war in Syria.” What is the danger of these alliances, Holiness? “The danger regarding immigration. We, you know this well, have as the principle problem and, unfortunately growing in the today’s world, that of poverty, of the weak, of the excluded, of whom emigrants are members. On the other hand there are countries where the majority of the poor don’t come from migratory streams but from social calamities of that country; others, instead, have little local poverty but they fear the invasion of migrants. That’s why the G20 worries me.” [So, America has a “distorted vision of the world”.]
Do you think, Holiness, that in global society as that in which we live the mobility of peoples is on the upswing, poor or not poor as they may be? “Let’s not fool ourselves: poor peoples have an attraction the continents and countries of old wealth. Above all Europe. I, too, have often thought about this problem and I have arrived at the conclusion that, not only for but also for this reason, Europe must assume as soon as possible a federal government and a federal parliament, not from individual confederated countries. You yourself have raised this topic many times, and have even spoken of it in the European parliament. It’s true, I’ve raised this many times.” And you received great applause and even standing ovations. “Yes, that’s so, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean much. They will do that if they figure out the truth: either Europe becomes a federal community or it won’t count for anything in the world.”
The rest … well.
Interesting. I think that the Pope wants a kind of “United States of Europe” to counter balance both the constitutional federal republic which are the United States of America and also the Russian Federation.
I wonder how that would work.
Pope Benedict, before his election, wrote quite a bit about the meaning, the soul of Europe. He was deeply preoccupied with the loss of its identity. First Things has a piece about Europe from Benedict XVI. After a deep historical analysis… here’s a taste. However, read the whole thing. Benedict has his own description of America which differs somewhat from that of his successor.
At the hour of its greatest success, Europe seems hollow, as if it were internally paralyzed by a failure of its circulatory system that is endangering its life, subjecting it to transplants that erase its identity. At the same time as its sustaining spiritual forces have collapsed, a growing decline in its ethnicity is also taking place. [Concise. This was written in 2006, before the present problems of immigration really picked up, but not before Europe began to turn into “Eurabia”.]
Europe is infected by a strange lack of desire for the future. Children, our future, are perceived as a threat to the present, as though they were taking something away from our lives. Children are seen—at least by some people—as a liability rather than as a source of hope. [Zero sum game.] Here it is obligatory to compare today’s situation with the decline of the Roman Empire. In its final days, Rome still functioned as a great historical framework, but in practice its vital energy had been depleted. [Interesting. Pope Francis, it is said, has a kind of “manifest destiny” view of Latin America. I had posted, back in 2014, about a long conversation I had with South American journalist Alejandro Bermudez of CNA. The concept of “peripheries”, is important to Francis. Thus,…
Bermudez spoke of the influence on Francis of thinkers such as the Uruguayan writer-theologian Alberto Methol Ferré, the Russian-American sociologist Pitirim Sorokin, and the pivotal Spanish-language poet Rubén Darío. To condense wildly, it seems that Francis may breathe in a school of thought that sees a kind of “manifest destiny” for Latin America. When cultures develop a interior decay, which they always do, revitalization of the cultures comes from “peripheries”. For the larger Church, experiencing an interior decay, a periphery is Latin America. Latin America, unlike any other continent, is unified in language (by far dominated by Spanish with related Portughese) and is/was unified in religion, Catholicism (though there is bad erosion). With these unifying factors, Latin America has a critical role to play. Also, if you are paying attention, Francis seems to use the word “periphery” a lot. This not quite the same thing as “margin”.
Back to Benedict on Europe.]
Which brings us to the problems of the present. There are two opposing diagnoses of the possible future of Europe. On the one hand, there is the thesis of […]
Amid the major upheavals of our day, is there a European identity that has a future and to which we can commit whole-heartedly?
A first element is the unconditionality with which human rights and human dignity should be presented as values that take precedence over any state jurisdiction. […] [Interesting in light of the controversy over the baby in England.]
A second element that characterizes European identity is marriage and the family. [Interesting in light of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, who said that the final battle with Satan is over the family and marriage.] Monogamous marriage—both as a fundamental structure for the relation between men and women and as the nucleus for the formation of the state community—was forged in the biblical faith. It gave its special physiognomy and its special humanity to Europe, both in the West and in the East, precisely because the form of fidelity and the sacrifice that it entails must always be regained through great efforts and suffering. [Therefore the Devil will attack marriage, especially by trying to separate the sexual act from procreation. That is why the homosexualists are so valuable to the Enemy.]
Europe would no longer be Europe if this fundamental nucleus of its social edifice were to vanish or be changed in an essential way. We all know how much marriage and the family are in jeopardy. Their integrity has been undermined by the easier forms of divorce at the same time as there has been a spread in the practice of cohabitation between men and women without the legal form of marriage. Paradoxically, homosexuals are now demanding that their unions be granted a legal form that is more or less equivalent to marriage. Such a development would fall outside the whole moral history of humanity that, whatever the diverse legal forms, has never lost sight of the fact that marriage is essentially the special communion of man and woman, which opens itself to children and thus to family.
The question this raises is not of discrimination but of what constitutes the human person as a man or as a woman, and which union should receive a legal form. If the union between man and woman has strayed further and further from legal forms, and if homosexual unions are perceived more and more as enjoying the same standing as marriage, then we are truly facing a dissolution of the image of humankind bearing consequences that can only be extremely grave. [Since 2006 the Enemy has made great strides.]
The last element of the European identity is religion. I do not wish to enter into the complex discussion of recent years, but to highlight one issue that is fundamental to all cultures: respect for that which another group holds sacred, especially respect for the sacred in the highest sense, for God, which one can reasonably expect to find even among those who are not willing to believe in God. When this respect is violated in a society, something essential is lost. In European society today, thank goodness, anyone who dishonors the faith of Israel, its image of God, or its great figures must pay a fine. The same holds true for anyone who dishonors the Koran and the convictions of Islam. But when it comes to Jesus Christ and that which is sacred to Christians, freedom of speech becomes the supreme good. [The last acceptable prejudice.]
This case illustrates a peculiar Western self-hatred that is nothing short of pathological. It is commendable that the West is trying to be more open, to be more understanding of the values of outsiders, but it has lost all capacity for self-love. All that it sees in its own history is the despicable and the destructive; it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure. What Europe needs is a new self-acceptance, a self-acceptance that is critical and humble, if it truly wishes to survive. [Thus, Benedict in 2006. He didn’t call for a “federation” of Europe. He wanted Europe to recover its Christian soul.]
Multiculturalism, which is so passionately promoted, can sometimes amount to an abandonment and denial, a flight from one’s own things. Multiculturalism teaches us to approach the sacred things of others with respect, but we can do this only if we ourselves are not estranged from the sacred, from God. With regard to others, it is our duty to cultivate within ourselves respect for the sacred and to show the face of the revealed God—the God who has compassion for the poor and the weak, for widows and orphans, for the foreigner; the God who is so human that he himself became man, a man who suffered, and who by his suffering with us gave dignity and hope to our pain.
Unless we embrace our own heritage of the sacred, we will not only deny the identity of Europe. We will also fail in providing a service to others to which they are entitled. To the other cultures of the world, there is something deeply alien about the absolute secularism that is developing in the West. They are convinced that a world without God has no future. Multiculturalism itself thus demands that we return once again to ourselves.
We do not know what the future of Europe will be. Here we must agree with Toynbee, that the fate of a society always depends on its creative minorities. [“CREATIVE MINORITIES”] Christian believers should look upon themselves as just such a creative minority, helping Europe to reclaim what is best in its heritage and thereby to place itself at the service of all humankind.
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