The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Europe's Suicidal Option for Sterility

We normally think of historians as those who look to the past and chronicle human history. Historians examine events and people, identify the most influential, and strive to help us understand better both past and present. Some do this well and others not so well. Many are overly influenced by ideology and other biases, while a few actually search for the truth. Of course, to search for the truth one must first believe that truth exists, something most progressive relativists, historians included, cannot accept. And yet the very best historians, and they are indeed a rare breed, are often prophetic in that, based on their understanding of history's truths, they offer us realistic insights into what the future holds. 

I certainly have my favorite historians, and among these I include Lord Acton, Christopher Dawson, Henri Pirenne, Arnold Toynbee and Eric Voegelin. I'll also add G. K. Chesterton to my short list, even though he considered himself a journalist and not an historian. I suppose, though,  good journalists are historians of sorts in that they chronicle the recent past. This, of course, was exactly what Chesterton did, and in doing so he shared many prophetic insights with his readers.

George Weigel
I'm not really sure why my thoughts turned to historians, but it guess it began this morning after reading a brief essay by George Weigel, an intellectual who, like Chesterton, probably doesn't consider himself an historian. A Catholic theologian, biographer of St. John Paul II, and all-around commentator on the meeting and separation of the religious and the secular in the modern world, Weigel included some surprising truths in his essay, Catholic Lite and Europe's Demographic Suicide (published online on the First Things website). 

Addressing what can be seen only as a war on children, Weigel focuses on the demographics of the once-Christian population of Europe, a population that is quickly disappearing. Interestingly, Weigel implies that Europe's political leadership -- and much of its relgious leadership -- is fully aware of the situation but really doesn't seem to care. He mentions a conversation he had a decade ago with a member of the Brussels-based European Parliament in which the Italian politician said,  “Look, we know we’re finished. We’re trying to arrange things so that we can die comfortably in our beds. Don’t you Yanks come over here and start stirring things up.” 

One can only wonder what motivates a politician to prefer personal comfort and societal suicide to his responsibility to preserve and protect the society he supposedly serves. The most obvious answer is a degree of selfishness taken to the extreme, of the sort that can only have a demonic source. Political correctness is, of course, tailor-made for the promulgation of such an attitude. Once a society decides that speaking the truth is not only unacceptable, but also punishable, the lie -- any lie that fits -- becomes the "new truth." Sadly, Europe has already reached this point in its decline. 

Europe's sterility is epitomized by another remarkable fact pointed out by Weigel: "...the prime ministers or presidents of Europe’s largest economies — and of all the European members of that exclusive global club, the G7 — are without children..." Good heavens! Just consider the example these childless leaders set for their constituents.

(Of course the one growing segment of Europe's population is the Muslim segment. Even if some of this segment consider their children expendable and fitting candidates for suicide bombings, the majority apparently see their children as their future.)

Weigel goes on to place much of the blame for Europe's suicidal option for sterility on the so-called Catholic Lite accommodation to secular values, what he rightly considers a "colossal evangelical failure." Much of the Church's leadership, particularly in Germany and the Low Countries, have been virtually silent in the face of European society's widespread acceptance of contraception, abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. Given the seriousness of Our Lord's warning in Matthew's Gospel, I suspect personal weakness and fear of persecution are not acceptable excuses:
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!" [Mt 18:6-7]
George Weigel is always worth reading and if this subject interests you, I suggest picking up a copy of his little book on Europe, America and the Church: The Cube and the Cathedral.

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