Pope Francis and Pope Benedict on Europe’s future

francis_benedictPope 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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  1. Ages says:

    Why would Pope Francis want to see the European Union, which opposes everything about Christian civilization, strengthened? Does he really think the church has a future in such a society, where the newest Reich finally comes into its own? Why is he acting as a lackey for Brussels?

    As an aside, I don’t think Americans understand how powerful the EU already is. Brexit opened my eyes to this. EU law is so all-encompassing that the UK’s “great repeal bill” is actually going to enshrine existing EU law in British law until they can go through and repeal what specifically doesn’t work. This is necessary because in many areas, the UK has not set their own domestic policy in decades. Everything is dictated from Brussels. In some ways, US states have more sovereignty than EU states.

    I pray that Poland, and other countries that care about a Christian future, get out before it’s too late.

  2. pelerin says:

    Surely ‘Unity is Strength?’ You have the United States and we in Britain have been in the European Unionfor many years. Sadly the majority who voted ‘Out’ won by a whisker so we shall be on our own in the future if it all goes through. My children and grandchildren always visualised a future in Europe and like me were devastated by the result.

    I see the G20 has been declared a success by President Trump and yet he is out of step with all the other members. Very strange.

  3. America’s vision is certainly distorted, profoundly perverse. And just because we may lag behind Europe’s descent just a bit doesn’t mean we aren’t catching up quick…

    [I’ll bet you can’t tell us what “America’s vision” is.]

  4. Chris Rawlings says:

    There are real differences between Benedict and Francis. This isn’t one of them. With regards to Trump’s America, Putin’s Russia, and the integrality and importance of a united Europe, I am confident that there is very little daylight between the two popes. And given the fact that Benedict wrote an entire encyclical on the matter, I doubt he would be too disappointed to hear that Francis believes that global capitalism has simply failed to adequately address the lives and needs of those on the margins of the new economy. I mean, anybody who paid any attention to the US election can’t help but admit this fact.

  5. Oxonian95 says:

    A Federal States of Europe is an idea consigned to the dustbin history. All recent evidence shows movement toward disassociation, not tighter federation. The only means left to create a federated Europe would be for the Germans and French to force countries such as Poland to submit by military force. Optics on that might be a little troubling.

    But ignore the impossibility–has Europe’s “view of the world” become less “distorted” since 1940-45? Is its soul healthier, so that we should trust it to serve as the moral center of the world? If so, from where did the healing come? Is there any reason to think that the secular Zeitgeist has transformed Europeans into angels while their churches emptied? I pray that no thoughts such as this are entertained in the Holy Father’s head, and that the atheist Scalfari is projecting his own delusions into his report of the interview.

  6. byzantinesteve says:

    Interesting that the Pope can somehow manage to carve out time to meet with an atheist reporter but there’s no time to respond to the dubia or meet with the four cardinals.

  7. Kevin says:

    I look fwd. to the day when Ireland will be forced to follow Britain. Sadly we’re a politically retarded nation that will come to this realisation a generation too late resulting in a catastrophic economic, spiritual, and social collapse. I look fwd. to this ‘cos Christ will be patiently waiting for us with open arms.

  8. Tom W says:

    Good time to grab your copy of “The Screwtape Letters” and read Chi 23
    where Screwtape speaks to the border of politics and theology and how to corrupt a spirit
    There is a risk to the uninitiated, in my opinion, where emphasis is
    understood to reside. Great caution from Church leaders should be applied

  9. Hidden One says:

    To oversimplify, Pope Francis seems concerned for the body of Europe, whereas Pope Benedict was concerned for her soul.

  10. Alanmac says:

    Europe and the US/Canada are being invaded daily by illegals who bring no skills. Many are illiterate, have no English and no will to work or integrate. The numbers are staggering and will produce enormous social and economic catastrophes very soon.

  11. mburn16 says:

    What, exactly, does the Pope want Europe to “count for”? Open borders to permit the relocation of tens of millions of Muslims? Does he believe, as head of the Catholic Church, that an Islamic Europe will be a better advocate of peace and prosperity?

    It strikes me that being White or Western precludes one from inclusion in the Holy Father’s preferred “marginalized” demographic. That may be congruent with the liberation theology he is so influenced by, but it is horribly incongruent with reality.

    I’d love to see Francis go spend a week or two in American coal country or northern England or rural France. He would likely come away with a vastly different understanding of how the various social and economic groups relate with one another.

  12. donato2 says:

    If Pope Francis chose to communicate the idea through Scalfari you know it has to be a very bad idea. But perhaps we can tease some positives out of this. Take for example the language of the Federated Europe that the Pope envisions. It seems to me that Latin is the logical choice given that it would underscore what the nations of the Federated Europe share, at least in part, linguistically. And taking things a step further would not the Church’s Magisterium be the logical source for defining the common values of this Federated Europe so as to give it true cohesion?

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  14. mburn16 says:

    “You have the United States and we in Britain have been in the European Union for many years….My children and grandchildren always visualized a future in Europe and like me were devastated by the result.”

    Perhaps its simply my American viewpoint, but I don’t understand how anyone can make an honest comparison between the US and the EU, nor how anyone in the UK could want to yolk their future to that ambiguous concept of “Europe”.

    The United States started as thirteen colonies. They shared a common language, common broad religious beliefs, largely a common culture. Although there were some non-British populations, all were a part of England before the revolution. They all fought on the same side in the revolutionary war. And all the states that came after those first 13 descended from them. And its worth noting that even the limited divisions we have within the US today – North vs. South, Hispanic populations in the Southwest, etc – cause a great deal of difficulty.

    Does Europe have that level of commonality? Hardly. The main European nations spent most of the last 1000 years at war with each other. They speak different languages, have different songs and stories, eat different foods, and have different historical perspectives.

    What leads a person in the UK today, heir to Shakespeare, heir to the victorious pro-Democracy forces during the first and second world wars, heir to the British empire…to want to turn over primary legal authority to a distant (both physically and culturally) body in Brussels?

  15. Absit invidia says:

    [Since 2006 the Enemy has made great strides.]

    The philosopher Santana said:
    “Great civilizations are not conquered from without, until they have conquered themselves from within.”

    Merkel, Macron, europe’s cardinals and bishops are all foolhardedly enabling their own demise – it’s like some kind of suicide pact and the more you point it out, the more they double down on their stupidity.

  16. 1173justin says:

    The problem is everyone is scared to define what being “western” is. To be truly western, you must be both genetically European, AND Christian. For instance, is Latin America, “western”? well kind of, but their not the patrimony we think of. Though they are, by and large, Christian. Is Albania and Kosovo “western”? No, though they are sufficiently European, they’re Muslims. Therefore to possess the patrimony of Western civilization in the fullest sense is to be her posterity both genetically, and spiritually.

  17. Lurker 59 says:

    The dream of (restoring) a politically united Europe has long been a goal of the Western Church, and this dream harkens back to well before the Great Schism, the Fall of Rome and the dividing of the Empire into Eastern and Western halves. Political intrigue and maneuvering are writ large throughout the Church’s history. Thus, it should only be surprising if the current leaders of the Church should argue for a politically divided Europe as an ideal.

    What is different with Pope Francis is that one can legitimately say that he is not arguing for a Christian Europe. What is the core of culture for Pope Benedict? Religion. What is the core of culture for Pope Francis? Politics.

    Does the city first form around the forum and from there the temple, or does the city first form around the temple and from there the forum?

    The American Experiment sidesteps this European problem — the fight over which is principle in the polis — the temple or the forum — by grounding the debate in natural rights, chiefly liberty, which both constrain the forum and the temple, though arguably the forum more so than the temple. This causes the American forum and temple to be much more individualistic focused than the European counterparts. Thus American’s vision looks “distorted” to those with a more European vision. All the more so if you come from a European forum first model where politics is derived from needs/obligations viewed through a Marxist lens of socio-economic class conflict.

  18. Imrahil says:

    Is Latin America “western”?

    Well yes of course.

    Is Albania and Kosovo “western”?

    Their being Muslims by majority mixes things up, but interestingly enough, yes, they are; though I wouldn’t say that as quickly about the Serbs. (On the Balkan, the Muslim is historically the Catholic’s ally against the Eastern Orthodox.)

    Sometimes these things are complicated.

  19. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    I’m sorry that Pelerin and his descendants were devastated by the British people’s decision to leave the European Union. I can remember how depressing it was to be taken in to the EU (a mere generation ago, not “many years”, in my view, as Pelerin must surely remember). And that was done not only without a referendum, but against strong opposition even in Parliament, and overseas, with strong opposition in Denmark, with a referendum overturned, not to mention France.

    Far from being a “whisker”, last year’s majority for Brexit was over a million. The mandate for Brexit is far stronger than the referendum majorities in France and Denmark in favour of the Maastricht treaty. I understand that more people voted for Brexit than have voted for anything else in the history of British democracy. For my own part, I cried for joy.

    Of course Brexit will “go through”. The British people demand it. Britain will take its place in the world as an independent country once again. I rejoice in that, as do many of my fellow Catholics (I only know one personally who disagrees with me, although I am aware that there are more). I deeply regret the Holy Father’s comments on European politics.

  20. Dspauldi says:

    I get the distinct impression that His Holiness dislikes the US and Americans. It has been my observation that openly denigrating others tends to close their minds and hearts to us. There are management courses on this subject and more than a few self-help books.

    Perhaps Pope Francis should pick one up and consider his tone and word choice, asking himself “is this really how God wants me to deal with fellow Christians who have traditionally given a great deal of consideration to papal statements?”

    More interesting though may be that His Holiness has time for spur-of-the-moment meetings with Socialist reporters but is too busy to meet with his bishops who have expressly and publicly begged for meetings.

    At the least that is terrible management, even for a Peronist.

    Management 101 says that, when a subordinate publicly calls one out, one publicly asserts that a discussion will occur. Then it does… Quickly. During that meeting, one makes quite clear that the subordinate will not publicly call one out again before getting to the aubstance of the matter.

    His Holiness is authoritarian but he does little more than sow discord and that suggests to me that he lacks the management skills that his impulses require.

    Quote from a good practicing Catholic friend who contributes greatly to th parish and diocese:

    “I am done with this guy and no longer care what he has to say. Unless infallibility is involved, I will not read or listen to another word.”

    His Holiness has lost or is losing American Catholics who care a great deal for the Church. They aren’t going anywhere but they no longer care about the Papacy. Maybe that is a good thing.

  21. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    ” . . . to possess the patrimony of Western civilization in the fullest sense is to be her posterity both genetically, and spiritually.”

    A number of commenters have mentioned an idea along the lines of the one summed up by 1173justin (above).

    I wonder what the Europe of today would look like if, since the end of WWII, Europeans had chosen to have three or four children per family, on average. Instead many of the people whose ancestry is genetically European, have chosen to contracept or abort their own posterity until their populations have fallen below demographic replacement levels.

    And most of the people in the U.S. who genetic profile is primarily or exclusively European have been doing the same. Healthy and fertile married couples often consider two children – by means of contraception and abortion – a “complete” family, and many other healthy and fertile couples have, by the same means, one baby, or none at all, and for them, that is their “complete” family. (I am most emphatically not referring to couples who are open to life, but have fertility or other health issues that limit their family size.)

    One theory is that many families with European genetic profiles have achieved relatively prosperous and comfortable lives with many choices and opportunities for consumer items, for education, travel, vacations, etc. And many married women want a minimum of disruption to their careers. Many of these couples regard with horror the idea of downshifting to the much simpler lifestyles resembling those of their grandparents and great-grandparents – whose lives revolved around family, work, and church, and who had fewer possessions, fewer opportunities, fewer choices, and less freedom. Modern couples tend to view each additional child as an obstacle to the possessions, choices, and freedom that they have come to enjoy. And their fertility rates would seem to reflect this attitude. It’s too bad.

  22. Filipino Catholic says:

    On a different tangent I can’t help but notice the striking difference between the “thrones” used by Benedict XVI and by Francis. The former in its stateliness reminds me of the King whose Vicar (viceroy perhaps?) the Pope is, while the latter makes me wonder whether it is carved out of solid marble — a Throne of Stone for the successor of the apostle named Rock. (The more pressing question is, on what foundation does Francis build his more questionable remarks, one of rock or one of sand?)

  23. dr.Lloyd says:

    Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to leave by the Church. I’ll put all my usual alt-right rhetoric aside since I know people here are especially sincere, particularly father.
    In all honesty, if he is saying the EU will somehow defend the family, or promote the Church’s magisterium, he is lying. No one with any kind of awareness, let alone the keys, could think something so absurd. I’m not one for apocalyptic hysteria, but if I was, the EU would be at the top of the list for possible Antichrist supporters.

    Mass immigration has been absolutely disastrous. Despite his outdated, 1960s worldview, the Holy Father HAS to know that turning over the continent to Islam means destroying the Church in the long run.

    I just hope he lives long enough to see the meltdown. The USA is heading towards Civil War. The globalists and neocons didn’t get their war with Russia (perhaps God intervened on our behalf?) and now they are desperate.

    Immigrants become invaders once they attain a certain number. I am by no means Xenophobic, being half Chinese American I am hardly some neo-Nazi. But immigration is out of control and the great mass of immigrants are ruining it for the smaller number of immigrants who contribute. Sooner or later too many immigrants turn their new land into their old one.

    Why can’t the Holy Father see this? What is his problem?

  24. dr.Lloyd says:

    Also Mass Imigration creates much more poverty than it reduces.

    The vacuum created in third world countries is massive. Furthermore there is damage to the working classes in the target countries.

  25. Ed the Roman says:

    I t has seemed to me for quite some time that much of the Vatican hierarchy really misses the Holy Roman Empire, and resents its replacement, as well as the United States.

  26. JustaSinner says:

    Communists of a feather, flock together…destroying everywhere they touch. When their rule ends and the people demand freedom and dignity, they merely flee to another terriory. Stripping it of its wealth, resources and freedom; much like a hungry swarm of Locusts. But for the people that win their freedom by overthrowing the yokes of oppression? To these are the vile attacks on them and their new freedom. (Poloand?) And for the country and people that stand in the way of their hunger for devastation and destruction? The most heinous attacks are heaped upon them. Heaven forbid that they stand against these forces of communism–Reagan, Thatcher, St. JPII, Lech Walesia, even Trump—for they will be branded enfeebled old fools, mindless ideologues, bad Popes that turned blind eyes to the REAL world problems, a fraud and a carnival barker.
    But a small question: is Jesus a communist or a capitalist?

  27. marcelus says:

    To be fair, the HF also spoke about Europe in spiritual terms when meeting the EU leaders:
    Here are some quotes from Francis:

    Rome: Cradle of European civilization

    The founding fathers [of the EU] remind us that Europe is not a conglomeration of rules to obey, or a manual of protocols and procedures to follow. It is a way of life, a way of understanding man based on his transcendent and inalienable dignity, as something more than simply a sum of rights to defend or claims to advance. At the origin of the idea of Europe, we find “the nature and the responsibility of the human person, with his ferment of evangelical fraternity … with his desire for truth and justice, honed by a thousand-year-old experience.” Rome, with its vocation to universality, symbolizes that experience and was thus chosen as the place for the signing of the Treaties. For here – as the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, J. Luns, observed – “were laid the political, juridical and social foundations of our civilization.”

    Europe’s soul is Christian

    [The] common denominator [of the founding fathers] was the spirit of service, joined to passion for politics and the consciousness that “at the origin of European civilization there is Christianity,” without which the Western values of dignity, freedom and justice would prove largely incomprehensible. As Saint John Paul II affirmed: “Today too, the soul of Europe remains united, because, in addition to its common origins, those same Christian and human values are still alive. Respect for the dignity of the human person, a profound sense of justice, freedom, industriousness, the spirit of initiative, love of family, respect for life, tolerance, the desire for cooperation and peace: all these are its distinctive marks.” In our multicultural world, these values will continue to have their rightful place provided they maintain a vital connection to their deepest roots. The fruitfulness of that connection will make it possible to build authentically “lay” societies, free of ideological conflicts, with equal room for the native and the immigrant, for believers and nonbelievers.

  28. Chrisc says:

    I think that there are 3 errors at work here. 1) Pope Francis reportedly says that there is a danger of alliances between individual nation states. Francis views this as ipso facto a sign of greed – marginalizing those outside of the contract. This is simply rubbish, and denies the legitimate reciprocity between equals that is a hallmark of subsidiarity. 2 nations working together is not inherently worse than 20, unless you hold the ideological position that broader but less deep agreements provide better solutions. Because my neighbor and I work out an agreement for lawn-care does not impugn, nor disadvantage the rest of the neighborhood. In fact, it might be the spirit of this authentic collaboration that leads to a whole neighborhood concern for our ‘common home’.

    2) He states that America has a distorted vision of the world. Let’s not deny that each country has their own challenges in viewing reality. But two questions emerge. What is it that gives us confidence that the person of Pope Francis has the correct vision? And how does one overcome whatever authentic distortions one might have? One comes to real clarity about the truth through a arduous examination of reality and examination of the self – which is why friendships are so important in the moral life. Francis seems to think having a town hall is more effective than having friendships, and this is true if our goal is making everyone ‘feel heard’. But it is completely wrong-headed when it comes to striving for something great.The town hall is a check, it does not inspire. This is very much of Pope Francis – a somewhat healthy check on certain abuses, but completely uninspiring.

    3) Francis shares many of our co-religionists hopes for the EU. It is true that the EU could have been great. If born at a different time, with a different philosophical trajectory, the EU could have been a bulwark against inauthentic nationalism which allowed the provincial and the local its correct federated status. Unfortunately, the dream of Catholic Social Teaching is distorted in the minds and hearts of rulers from Berlin to Paris and Rome. The EU has become not a defense of the local and traditional, but the socialist. The EU can never be the United States, because it has no definitive break with its past – it is rather just a larger different type of assimilative empire – whose purpose includes the necessary eradication of the Church. That eradication may be a kind of Comtian hollowing out and re-purposing of the Church to meet the liberal state sanctioned ends, such as we see in Germany. But very clearly the more the Church sings the anthem to the EU, the more that song and the Church loses its ability to encounter the transcendent God.

  29. Simon_GNR says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with the comments of (X)MCCLXIII above.

    I voted in last year’s referendum for the UK to leave the EU. As a country, we didn’t have a referendum before we joined it, although it was a Conservative Party manifesto commitment in the 1970 general election to seek membership of the then European Economic Community, and the Conservatives won that election with a substantial majority. After the Treaties of Maastricht, Amsterdam and Lisbon, however, the EU became quite a different institution from the one Britain joined in 1973 and whose membership was confirmed by the 1975 referendum.

    Whilst I don’t want Britain to be a member of the EU, I do wish the EU to remain in existence. Three times in 70 years (1870, 1914 and 1939) France and Germany (or Prussia) went to war with each other. I believe these countries’ membership of the EEC/EC/EU has contributed greatly to the peace of Western Europe over the last 60 years: a war between France and Germany is now unthinkable.

    What Pope Francis has said on European unity is pretty vacuous and in any case his political opinions are of little consequence. My views are getting close to those of Dspauldi’s friend quoted above:

    “I am done with this guy and no longer care what he has to say. Unless infallibility is involved, I will not read or listen to another word.”

    It strikes me that perhaps Pope Francis just likes the sound of his own voice and likes liberally to express his opinions. But, unless it concerns faith or morals, opinions are all they are – no more valuable than anybody else’s. Perhaps he should concentrate his energies on the salvation of souls, and the governance of the Church?

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  31. Semper Gumby says:

    Well now, in 2015 while addressing the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis said: “Dear Friends, I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.””

    Less than two years later: “a distorted vision of the world.”

    I’m with other commenters here who are taking less and less of an interest in the too-often erratic comments from this Pontificate. I also agree with the suggestions here that the current Pope should focus on matters such as answering the Dubia, supervising wayward cardinals and bishops, and saving souls- rather than supporting the authoritarian and socialist EU.

    May I suggest that Pope Francis spend more time in conversation with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and reading St. John Paul II (e.g. Centesimus Annus #39-42 which praises: the family and sanctity of life, private property, the positive aspects of the free market, and the state’s right, even duty, to defend collective goods. Safe and secure borders is a reasonable method, even an obligation, to secure those collective goods).

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