Europe’s failure to understand the Mideast

When you don’t remember the value of religion in your own history, you won’t appreciate the meaning of religious persecution to other populations.

Fr. Bernardo Cervellera issues this rather scathing account.

After more than three weeks of debate, the EU has managed to produce a text that explicitly mentions Christians as victims of persecution and the object of violent attacks. An earlier text had been prepared in January, after the terrorist attack on the Church in Baghdad and the massacre at the Church in Alexandria, but was it rejected because of the lack of references to Christians, since the EU preferred to use generic term “religious minorities”.

Political correctness rules.

The new text approved yesterday explicitly mentions “Christians and their places of worship” victims of “acts of religious intolerance and discrimination,” but now hastens to include among the victims of such acts “Muslim pilgrims and other religious communities” as well.

(Emphasis added)

Yet even this text does not satisfy in full. It seeks to balance the anti-Christian violence with those against other religious communities, in an “excess” of balance and equidistance, not taking into account that at least 70% of persecution in today’s world is carried out against Christians. Yet these impressive figures are the result of statistics (from the World Christian Encyclopedia to the Pew Research Centre) and not partisan reports, so much so that Pope Benedict XVI used the word “Christianophobia” for the first time in a papal speech…

This is a rare indictment because so few writers will confront this truth. If they even get it.

It is said that the world and Europe have been taken by surprise by the riots in Tunisia, Egypt, etc. .. We think that this blindness is due to the fact that in all these years, the sole motivation for our Europe’s relationship with these countries was its own its narrow economic interests and thus “stability”, not a shared communication of values, attentiveness to social questions, dialogue between cultures and religions. In practice, Europe’s identity was its wallet: and little more.

It takes bankruptcy to restructure. What new structures will look like for Christians is as unsure as the rest of the landscape.

Remember your identity

I’ve been going over Pope Benedict’s messages in Malta, short as that trip was, and appreciating the depth of his message. He does so much with brevity.

Pope John Paul II so often urged his audiences to recognize and claim their identity as Christians made in the image of God, never to allow themselves to be redefined or demeaned by cultural or political forces. His book ‘Memory and Identity’ is outstanding.

Pope Benedict has told Europeans the same thing repeatedly in his pontificate, urging them to recall their Christian roots as they re-shape their political identities and government. Tough message for populations who’ve strayed so far from those roots their government didn’t want to acknowledge it in the European Constitution.

But no matter the political and cultural forces, Benedict keeps encouraging his listeners with the same message in the voice of the gentle shepherd. Be aware of your identity. And…

“…embrace the responsibilities that flow from it, especially by promoting the Gospel values that will grant you a clear vision of human dignity and the common origin and destiny of mankind…

“Unity, solidarity and mutual respect stand at the basis of your social and political life. Inspired by your Catholic faith, they are the compass that will guide you in the search for authentic and integral development. The treasure of the Church’s social teaching will inspire and guide these efforts. Never allow your true identity to be compromised by indifferentism or relativism. May you always remain faithful to the teaching of St. Paul”.

Amen to that.