Europe, or rather what is left of it, seems to have reached a live-or-die situation. It was pushed into it from both within and without, and the two are connected. From inside, it is smitten by the radicalization of its Muslim inhabitants and the loss of the core structures of its society: the family, marriage, the Christian faith, and all the values based on those things.
From outside, it is burdened by mass migration of refugees escaped from their war-torn homelands and economic migrants seeking the benefits of European life style without bearing the cost. The radicalization of Europe’s Muslim populations is connected to the migration problem. Not all those fleeing the Middle East are hostile to the Islamist philosophy of ISIS. Some come with the intention to slaughter civilians, and recent atrocities in France and Belgium have shown the extent to which new arrivals are ready and willing to join the cause of Allah. As ISIS consolidates its grip on Syria and loses what support it has among the local populations, it will increasingly seek to export its Islamist ideology and the violence associated with it.
One wonders how much the loss of the primacy of Christianity is responsible for the impending demise of European civilization. The EU institutions have made a point of removing all references to the Christian religion and its moral legacy from official documents, on the view that such things will constitute discrimination in favour of one group of Europeans over another. Cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights and also the European Court of Justice are pushing for continent-wide laws permitting gay marriage, easy divorce, abortion on demand, as well as laws banning the crucifix from public places and curtailing the teaching of the Christian religion in schools.
The de-Christianisation of Europe is being pursued also through the European Parliament and its Fundamental Rights Agency, charged with the advocacy of human rights at all legislative levels. The Fundamental Rights Agency is led by activists in the cause of “gender equality” and is inherently hostile to the traditional family and to the religion-based morality that shaped it. Europe is dumping its Christian heritage and replacing it with a pesudoreligion of human rights that is aimed at filling the hole left in people’s mind when religion is taken away.
The notion of human rights claims to be the ground for moral opinions, judicial determinations and political debate but it stands on slippery ground. If people are asked what is the basis for religion commands or prohibitions, most would refer it to God’s revealed law or the Magisterium of the church. If the question is about what rights are to be considered human or natural or unalterable, the answer would depend on whom is asked and there would be no universal criteria to establish who is right or wrong. Consider the dispute over the institution of marriage. Does it grant the right to marry a partner of the same sex? And if so, why shouldn’t it allow other forms of marriage like polygamy or polyandry? The arguments are endless, and nobody knows how to settle them.
As a matter of fact, we are witnessing the removal of the old religion that provided the foundations to the moral and legal codes of Europe and its replacement with a quasi-religion with no foundation. Nobody knows how to settle the question whether this or that privilege, freedom, or claim is a “human right,” and the European Court of Human Rights is now overwhelmed by a backlog of cases in which just about every piece of legislation passed by national parliaments in recent times is at stake.
All in all, putting the external and the internal threats together, it is difficult to be optimistic about the future of European civilization.
Pope Francis is trying his best to revamp the original spirit of Christianity but, however inspiring are his words and deeds, he preaches to a society that on the whole has long become alien to the Christian faith and held hostage by a sense of exhaustion and hopelessness which can overtake people even with a high degree of wealth. Of course, civilization requires some material prosperity but, far more, it requires confidence — confidence in the society in which one lives, belief in its philosophy, belief in its laws and, last but not least, confidence in one’s own spiritual legacy. Will Europeans be able to regain all these levels of confidence? It is something “devoutly to be wished” as Hamlet would say, hoping they won’t behave like Hamlet in dealing with the challenges facing Europe.