Category : Europe

Archbp Justin Welby–Christian Presence and Witness in Europe An address to the Assembly of the Conference of European Churches

Europe is not in danger of falling. And there is no sense in which I suggest that Brexit or other crises currently around will derail the European Union or bring about the downfall of
Europe. To suggest that would be akin to the old English saying that when there is fog in the Channel then the continent is cut off. But Europe, like other parts of the world, is in a
fragile phase. Current geo-political uncertainty is unsettling. In my part of the continent there is a nation attempting to leave the EU, on the other edges of the EU such as here there are countries and peoples keen to get in.

For Augustine the fall of Rome showed the specious nature of putting faith in the earthly city. For Augustine the benefit of being a Christian is citizenship of an eternal city. This
comes through faith in Christ.

That cannot lead to complacency. The fact that Christianity survived in Europe does not indicate that it is indestructible, but that God protects the Church that he created and loves.
Christian survival within Europe is not an objective of the Church, rather it should be for the Church to be obedient to the pattern of Christ, to be Christ’s hand, mouth and love in this
world today.

Jesus told his disciples that they were to be salt and light (Matthew 5: 13-16), both the means of preserving the society in which the Church exists and also the source of illumination that reveals both shadow and truth, that unveils what seeks to be hidden, and illuminates what inspires.

For the Church to be effective and to continue to be blessed by God, it must speak truth to the societies that it sees around it and act in a way that is consistent with the truth it
speaks….

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, England / UK, Europe, History, Religion & Culture

Remembering D-Day–General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Speech

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces:

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

Read it all (audio link also available).

Posted in America/U.S.A., England / UK, Europe, History, Military / Armed Forces

(The Tablet) Ruth Gledhill–NT Wright on why the West faces catastrophe if it fails to reconnect with its Christian roots

“We lack a clear idea of what a modern civil society ought to look like. And that’s dangerous. Europe has torn itself apart twice in the past hundred years. I don’t think we can say that secularism is the great gospel that is necessarily going to triumph. On the contrary, it seems to me that secularism, if you’re not careful, leads to a pretty dark place. It’s the same dark place that much ancient philosophy was in before the arrival of Christianity. Because, basically, secularism is a modern form of Epicureanism.”

[Tom] Wright, the attentive teacher, sees that I am struggling. I’m brought up to speed. Epicurus, he explains, was the ancient Greek philosopher who believed that pleasure was the greatest good. “And here’s the interesting thing,” Wright continues. “Epicureanism says, if the gods exist, they are a long way away; they don’t bother about us so we don’t need to bother about them. What we have to do is just make ourselves as comfortable as we can. And that’s fine if you are reasonably well off and have got good slaves and a nice little vineyard. But for most people, life is very different.”

“Western Europe and North America has been an Epicurean society for the last 200 years,” Wright goes on. “Thomas Jefferson said, ‘I am an Epicurean.’ The Epicureans were never a majority in ancient Greece, but they have become a majority in the Western world. And, as Benedict pointed out, we have been living on borrowed time, feasting on the fruits of other people’s labour. But the worm has turned. Now the people who we have exploited and ignored are – quite literally – being washed up on our shores. It is becoming clear that our freedoms and our sophisticated modern comforts have been purchased at a terrible cost for people in many other parts of the world.

“We simply have no narrative to make sense of this,” Wright tells me. When the Arab spring happened, there was an assumption among some in the West that all that was needed was to topple a few dictators and then a tolerant, liberal democracy would somehow spring up automatically. “The last seven years have shown that that’s simply not how things work. Life is more complicated than that.”

Then I witness one of the deft connections Wright is celebrated for making between a contemporary problem and an almost forgotten solution. “Unless we reconnect with the ancient Christian narrative,” he says, “we will never understand what is happening, let alone to come through to the other side.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Canada, England / UK, Europe, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CC) Philip Jenkins–In Europe, even occasional prayer is on the way out

Stephen Bullivant is a highly re­spected British academic who, among other topics, studies the state of religion in contemporary Europe. He has just produced perhaps the single most depressing portrait of the Christian present and future on that continent—and that is not a genre noted for its optimism.

Drawing on the European Social Survey, Bullivant published a concise re­port, Europe’s Young Adults and Reli­gion, to assist the deliberations of the Synod of Catholic Bishops that meets in Rome in October. The report covers the religious outlook of young adults aged 16 through 29. The levels of religious behavior and interest it depicts in most countries are extraordinarily low.

In the Czech Republic, 91 percent of young adults claim no religious affiliation whatever, 8o percent never pray, and 70 percent never attend religious services. That country might be an outlier, but very low levels of religiosity also characterize Britain, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Although Bullivant does not stress this denominational angle, by far the grimmest conditions apply in what for centuries were the heartlands of Protestant Europe. Only 7 percent of English respondents identify as Angli­cans (the state church), compared to 10 percent who identify as Catholics and 6 percent as Muslims.

The “never praying” category is striking, since it shows we are not just dealing with basically religiously oriented people who happen to be disaffected from particular state churches.

Read it all.

Posted in Europe, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism

Pew Research Center–Being Christian in Western Europe

Western Europe, where Protestant Christianity originated and Catholicism has been based for most of its history, has become one of the world’s most secular regions. Although the vast majority of adults say they were baptized, today many do not describe themselves as Christians. Some say they gradually drifted away from religion, stopped believing in religious teachings, or were alienated by scandals or church positions on social issues, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey of religious beliefs and practices in Western Europe.

Yet most adults surveyed still do consider themselves Christians, even if they seldom go to church. Indeed, the survey shows that non-practicing Christians (defined, for the purposes of this report, as people who identify as Christians, but attend church services no more than a few times per year) make up the biggest share of the population across the region. In every country except Italy, they are more numerous than church-attending Christians (those who go to religious services at least once a month). In the United Kingdom, for example, there are roughly three times as many non-practicing Christians (55%) as there are church-attending Christians (18%) defined this way….

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Posted in Europe, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(CH) Christians against Nazis: the German Confessing Church

Bonhoeffer wanted to awaken the church to the fact that a monstrous injustice was being done to the Jews, and that the place of Christians was alongside their persecuted Jewish brothers. He challenged Christians to regard the Jews as the ‘neighbour fallen among thieves’, as in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. He saw that the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament, is part of the Christian Bible too; that Christians and Jews believe in the same God; that the Bible concept of’the people of God’ refers to both. But he could not persuade the Confessing Church to make a public statement on behalf of the Jews. As the Second World War progressed, the growing persecution of the Confessing Church by the Nazi authorities crippled the church’s ability to help others.

Many church agencies engaged in vigorous protest against the so-called ‘euthanasia measures’ by which those considered ‘unfit to live’ were exterminated. In 1939-40, after the outbreak of war, hundreds of thousands of mentally ill, old, mentally and physically handicapped people were murdered by the Nazis. On this issue the church spoke out clearly. But on the ‘Jewish question’, only a few shared Bonhoeffer’s insights and opinions. Only a few were able to put behind them the institutionalized anti-semitism of the Christian church. Only a few spoke up for the Jews who were deprived of their rights, humiliated, stripped of human dignity, driven out of Germany and eventually killed in their millions in the holocaust of the gas chambers.

Among these few was Bishop Wurm of Wiirttemberg. He wrote to the government and party officials at the highest level to protest against the extermination of Jews, Poles and Russians. Against the racist ideas of National Socialism he held up the vision of a community of faith in which the command ‘Thou shalt not kill’ would be absolute. Against the Nazi policies of total war and genocide he held up the will of God that not one of his children should perish. So a prophetic witness, a ‘call to conversion’, rang out even in these dark days of Nazi Germany.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Germany

(AP) Portugal considers allowing euthanasia, assisted suicide

After legalizing abortion and same-sex marriage in recent times, Portuguese lawmakers will decide Tuesday on another issue that has brought a confrontation between faith and politics in this predominantly Catholic country: whether to allow euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide.

The outcome of the vote is uncertain and is likely to be close, but Portugal could become one of just a handful of countries in the world to permit euthanasia under certain circumstances.

Euthanasia — when a doctor kills patients at their request — is legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In Switzerland, and some U.S. states, assisted suicide — where patients administer the lethal drug themselves, under medical supervision — is permitted.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Portugal, Religion & Culture

(Independent) Dutch court rules third gender should be recognised

A court in the Netherlands has said a third gender should be enshrined in law in a ground-breaking ruling for people who do not identify as either male or female.

The Limburg District Court in the city of Roermond decided an unnamed applicant could be recorded on their birth register as “gender undetermined”.

Until now, Dutch citizens have had to be registered as either a man or woman.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Law & Legal Issues, Sexuality, The Netherlands

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer on June 6, 1944

“My Fellow Americans:

“Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

“And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

“Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
“They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

“For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.&

“Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

“And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

“Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

“Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

“And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

“And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

“With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

“Thy will be done, Almighty God.

“Amen.”

You can listen to the actual audio if you want here and today of all days is the day to do that. Also, there is more on background and another audio link there.–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Europe, France, History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President, Spirituality/Prayer

Congratulations to Real Madrid for Winning the 2018 Champion’s League Final

Posted in England / UK, Europe, Spain, Sports

(Economist) Anti-Semitism in Europe may not in fact be rising

…in Ukraine, where the history of anti-Semitism is as bloody as anywhere, just 5% are unwilling to see Jews as citizens. Unlike Catholic Poland, Ukraine is multi-religious (though mainly Orthodox Christian) and has a substantial Jewish population, of around 300,000. Vyacheslav Likhachev, a sociologist who monitors anti-Semitism, says that apart from a fad for neo-Nazi youth subculture a decade ago, it has not really caught on. Radical-right parties with anti-Semitic ideologies have rarely won more than 1% of the vote. More recently, he points out, “because of Russian aggression they have a real enemy. They don’t need conspiracy theories about the Zionist Occupation Government.”

Indeed, in most countries, anti-Semitism rises or falls in concert with nationalism and identity politics. David Feldman of the Pears Institute notes the importance of “competitive victimhood”, in which claims of oppression by Jews, Muslims and other groups step on each others’ toes. Dariusz Stola, head of the Polin Museum of Polish Jewish History, says the same is true in Poland, where the national story is one of victimisation by Germany and Russia. It is more accurate, he thinks, to see anti-Semitism as part of a general wave of chauvinist sentiment since the migrant crisis of 2015; levels of hostility to Muslims, gays and Roma have risen too. Says Mr Stola: “Xenophobia is not selective.”

Read it all.

Posted in Europe, Judaism, Religion & Culture

(NYT Op-ed) David Brooks–The Loving Place in Italy for Children That Assumes Beauty

“Beauty educates,” said Serena, quoting Giussani. The children who come here often feel tossed aside. One used to be awakened by her mother with the words, “Get up, you piece of [expletive]. Breakfast is ready, you piece of [expletive].” But beautiful surroundings make the children who come here feel important, welcomed and cherished. If a toy breaks at Cometa, it is fixed right away. Likewise, every child is recoverable.

The people in Cometa don’t only treasure beauty, they assume it. In a world of distrust and betrayal, they assume there is beauty in each person and in every situation, so they lead with an almost unnerving level of hospitality.

The vocational high school curriculum is built around the idea that machines will soon be doing most physical tasks, but no machine will be able to create the feeling of a loving home. Whether they are being trained as waiters, carpenters, fabric designers or pastry chefs, students are taught to understand and create hospitable experiences. “Everything is a home,” said Mele. “Everything says, ‘Welcome to my home.’”

The idea is to give students the power to welcome others, born out of a sense that they have been welcomed. One of Giussani’s mottos resonates through Cometa: “Reality will not let you down.” You can take the radical leap, because life ultimately is beautiful.

This takes stubborn determination.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Italy, Philosophy

(NYT) In Berlin, a Show of Solidarity Does Little to Dampen Jewish Fears

After an attack on a young man wearing a kipa in a trendy Berlin neighborhood, the leader of Germany’s largest Jewish organization urged Jews to wear baseball caps instead. It was just too dangerous, he said, to walk around openly with a kipa or skullcap, a sign of devotion.

In a country that has spent 70 years fighting the legacy of the Holocaust, the backlash was swift: We are all kipa wearers. Berliners, including the mayor, and other Jewish groups participated in demonstrations on Wednesday in which people of all faiths donned skullcaps in solidarity.

“Today the kipa is a symbol of the Berlin that we would like to have,” Mayor Michael Müller told a crowd of hundreds of people outside the Jewish community center in western Berlin. It is, he said, “a symbol of tolerance.”

Read it all.

Posted in Germany, History, Judaism, Religion & Culture

(CNS) Roman Catholic group warns that Europe fails to give Young Europeans the support they need to start families

Young people in Europe need political support to start families in countries with aging populations, a French Catholic campaigner said.

While “young people want to form lasting relationships and have children,” they “don’t feel safe” to start families, said Antoine Renard, president of the Brussels-based Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe.

Unless something is done rapidly, Europe risks a total demographic collapse,” Renard said in an April 19 interview with Catholic News Service after the federation called on European Union governments to “put the family at the center of national policies.”

Young people are “often discouraged by inadequate and individualistic policies and cultures which are hostile to the family,” the federation said in an April 13 statement at the end of its spring meeting in Vienna.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults

(CEN) Hungarian Premier in new ‘Christian Europe’ controversy

Hungary’s ‘strong man’ premier Viktor Orban’s sweeping electoral victory heralds deeper confrontation with EU – and increased anxiety for Christians across Europe who deplore his equating ‘Christian Europe’ with anti-Muslim and antirefugee sentiment.

Orban’s ethno-nationalist election campaign centred on antimigrant rhetoric, declaring Islam and EU “enemies of Christian Hungary”. Justifying Hungary’s border fence as a “bulwark of Western Christian civilisation”, Orban poses as “defender of Christian Europe” against Muslim settlement and what he deems EU imposed multi-culturalism.

Pledged to build with Poland an anti-Brussels coalition of Central European states, Orban (pictured on the right) sees himself as inheritor of Hungary’s 16th and 17th century resistance to Islamic expansion against Christian Europe. Significantly, Pope Francis I immediately rejected Orban’s ‘defender of Christian Europe’ claims with a post-election message urging Catholics to care for migrants “as much as caring for the unborn”, and a Vatican video featuring a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan with a message of Christian compassion.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Hungary, Religion & Culture