Monday, March 26, 2007

The Pope and the European Union

The Pope has criticised the European Union for not including at least a mention about Europe's Christian roots in the Declaration for the Future of the European Union, signed on Sunday.

In one sense he is right, for if we study the history of Europe, and even the Enlightenment, Christianity has played an enormous part in its development and character. It would be foolish to deny, or dismiss, its influence. Should it therefore have a place in this document? Maybe. I only skimmed through it quickly, enough to see that it wasn't of particular importance to me, so I can't say.

It is understandable that the Churches want to be included into the European public sphere, for everything we do have moral and ethic component. We act according to our beliefs, and we reap the consequences of them too. Judging from the results (for example, decreased mental health), we're not doing that well as a society. We would therefore profit from a change of perspectives. But why?

The secular state is not (as many believe) a neutral repository of a diversity of beliefs, but advances its own values, beliefs, and goals. It needs to be challenged, for it often does not work for the benefit of all people, or for achieving peace. It therefore should be challenged and kept on its toes. And the Churches has all the right in the world to do so.

However, the Churches do need to acknowledge that Christianity is also the cause of secularism and atheistic humanism (that's btw why the humanists are so obsessed by Christianity - read the New Humanist and see for yourself). A lot of the conflicts, wars, bigotry in the 16th and 17th century were based on doctrinal differences. The violence defied all human logic and sense, and therefore led to what we today call the Enlightenment. The influence of the Churches was gradually restricted to the private sphere, and for very good reasons.

I would personally like to see a more open Europe today, where religion and spirituality is part of its varied landscape; I would like to see the Churches acknowledged for its thoughtful contribution and wisdom - but that will not happen unless the Churches acknowledges its part in the rise of secularism and atheism, and more importantly - root out their cause.

Maybe they will then notice that they have allies amongst all the Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and all other spiritually minded people in Europe. If they come so far as to acknowledge their intrinsic worth, and to respect them, the root cause will certainly have dissolved...

God bless!


Isaac Peabody. said...

Well said, Meru!

Meru said...

Thank you, Isaac.

gn said...

Hari bol Meruji!
What would be the cause of secularism and atheism that the Churches should root out?

Meru said...

Haribol Govindaji!:)

It's their exclusive claim to Truth. This led to a lot of conflict and strife in Europe, which was one of the main causes of secularism. It was a gradual process and involving a lot of simultaneous currents, but I would be so bold to say that this was one of the major reasons, if not the main reason for the gradual secularisation of Europe.

There is no problem with having a Truth claim, as long as this claim is tampered by the understanding that Truth is always much greater than we can imagine or understand. We can reach towards it, but we can never control, or hold it. And we can therefore never really judge our fellow man/woman on our path towards Truth.

This is something that secularists need to understand too. I think this could be a healthier basis for society than modernism and post-modernism.

Gosh! I got all carried away!:)