Tuesday 7 December 2010

Europe and the Faith

Europe may have forgotten her Christian roots and be a pale reflection of her Christian past, but there are still voices being raised to defend Christendom from further change and decay, as this recent spirited speech from Austria shows! (I cannot help but be reminded of Don John of Austria, the hero of the Battle of Lepanto, who prevented the Ottoman Turks from invading Europe in 1571.)

I discovered the link on Rorate Caeli: //rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/
For whatever technical reasons I often get some of the video cut off on this blog, so double click on the video to take you to the You Tube site - otherwise you will not be able to read the subtitles!

Pope Benedict has made no secret of his personal opposition to Turkey's entry in the European Union. On August 13th 2004 then Cardinal Ratzinger told Sophie de Ravinel of "Le Figaro Magazine":

"Europe is a cultural continent, not a geographical one. It is its culture that gives it a common identity. The roots that have formed it, that have permitted the formation of this continent, are those of Christianity. [...] In this sense, throughout history Turkey has always represented another continent, in permanent contrast with Europe. There were the wars against the Byzantine empire, the fall of Constantinople, the Balkan wars, and the threat against Vienna and Austria. That is why I think it would be an error to equate the two continents. It would mean a loss of richness, the disappearance of culture for the sake of economic benefits. Turkey, which is considered a secular country but is founded upon Islam, could instead attempt to bring to life a cultural continent together with some neighboring Arab countries, and thus become the protagonist of a culture that would possess its own identity but would also share the great humanistic values that we should all acknowledge. This idea is not incompatible with close and friendly forms of association and collaboration with Europe, and would permit the development of unified strength in opposition to any form of fundamentalism."

In a speech on September 18th 2004 to the pastoral workers of his titular diocese, Velletri, which was published in the Catholic newspaper of the Swiss town of Lugano, "Il Giornale del Popolo.":

"Historically and culturally, Turkey has little in common with Europe; for this reason, it would be a great error to incorporate it into the European Union. It would be better for Turkey to become a bridge between Europe and the Arab world, or to form together with that world its own cultural continent. Europe is not a geographical concept, but a cultural one, formed in a sometimes conflictual historical process centered upon the Christian faith, and it is a matter of fact that the Ottoman empire was always in opposition to Europe. Even though Kemal Ataturk constructed a secular Turkey during the 1920's, the country remains the nucleus of the old Ottoman empire; it has an Islamic foundation, and is thus very different from Europe, which is a collection of secular states with Christian foundations, although today these countries seem to deny this without justification. Thus the entry of Turkey into the EU would be anti-historical."

As the great Catholic historian Hillaire Belloc put it: "Europe is the Faith, and the Faith is Europe".

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