A recent Economist cover story read:

Eight wasted years, Two useless treaties. Three No
votes. Ignored by China and America. But still the world’s biggest
economy. Will somebody please…

Wake Europe up!

It was the usual dose of honest evaluation from those guys.
Strikingly, they say “very few of the answers” to where Europe’s headed
“can be found in the moderately useless Lisbon treaty.”

It is a deliberately obscure reworking of the draft EU
constitutional treaty rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005…That
the Lisbon treaty is being driven through despite having been rejected
by three out of a total of six referendums, and with ten governments
reneging on promises to hold votes of their own, is deeply shabby.

The challenge to ‘make Europe work’, they say, requires tasks like
raising productivity to be competitive with China and America, and
preserving the single market. It requires growing the Union with more
members, and choosing someone of stature on the world stage to head the
EU.

But preceding all that is the more fundamental task Pope Benedict laid out in his book Europe: Today and Tomorrow. The “values that had built Europe are completely overturned”, he states.

Even worse, there is a rupture here with the complex
moral tradition of mankind: there are no longer any values apart from
the goals of progress…Even man can become an instrument; the individual
does not matter. The future alone becomes the terrible deity that rules
over everyone and everything.

Communist systems failed, Benedict states, in fact ’shipwrecked’,
because of “their contempt for human rights, their subjection of
morality to the demands of the system and to their promises for the
future.”

The real catastrophe they left behind is not of an
economic sort; it consists, rather, in the drying up of souls, in the
destruction of moral conscience…

The loss of man’s primordial certainties about God, about himself,
and about the universe–the loss of an awareness of intangible moral
values-is still our problem, especially today, and it can lead to the
self-destruction of the European consciousness, which we must begin to
consider…as a real danger.

So….”Where do we go from here?” Benedict asks. His vision is that
the European Constitution, for starters, has to be based on
“foundational moral elements.”

The first element is the “unconditional character” of
human dignity and human rights, which must be presented as values that
are prior to any governmental jurisdiction. These fundamental rights
are not created by the legislator or conferred upon the citizens…

He says the horrors of Nazism and its racist theory are still too
recent for anyone to deny “the precedence of human dignity and
fundamental human rights over any political decision.” However….modern
pragmatism and “so-called progress”  have posed threats to these
values, whether cloning or preserving fetuses for research and organ
harvesting and genetic manipulation. Add to that “a burgeoning traffic
in human persons, new forms of slavery, and trfficking in human organs
for transplantation. Good ends are always adduced to justify the unjustifiable.”

And then there’s the issue of marriage and family.

Monogamous marriage, as a fundamental structure of the
relation between man and woman and at the same time as the basic cell
in the formation of the larger community, was modeled on the basis of
biblical faith. This gave Europe, both in the West and in the East, its
particular face and particular humanity…

Europe would no longer be Europe if this fundamental cell of its
social edifice were to disappear or if its nature were to be changed.

And there’s much, much more in this little book.

So….instead of Tony Blair popping through that curtain on the
Economist cover, ready to stir a languishing Europe, maybe they could
at least give Pope Benedict an audience. He understands the people
better than most Eurocrats understand themselves.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....