The EU’s Unholy, Un-Roman, Un-Empire
Robert Royal writes that whether or not Britain votes on Thursday to leave the European Union, we may be seeing the eclipse of Christendom.
One of the world’s most militantly secular and haplessly bureaucratic entities – which also labors mightily to spread its errors to the world – is facing a test and perhaps a defeat this week. On Thursday, voters in the United Kingdom will participate in a referendum on “Brexit,” or the British exit from the European Union. If they leave, the whole EU may be done.
If you read mainstream news sources, you’ll see headlines about how a British departure will send a shockwave through the global economy or is tantamount to economic insanity. As if we are all purely homo economicus now, and the passionate desire to leave the EU were some kind of irrational mass hysteria.
The truth is the urge to leave has nothing to do with economics and a lot to do with national sovereignty. It may very well be that the British economy will lag after departure, and that, in turn, will have global consequences. But the origins of the EU were much richer and broader than mere economics.
The large problem was the tension between France and Germany, which had almost destroyed Europe in two world wars. Two distinguished Catholic statesmen, Robert Schuman (France) and Konrad Adenauer (Germany), met secretly in Switzerland over a number of years (talking with post-Nazi Germany was still publicly impossible). They helped create the various international institutions, including NATO, which eventually led to the EU.
An even bigger question remained: what was to be the basis for the new Europe? The answer – again from Christian Democrats, most notably the great Thomist Jacques Maritain – was: a Christian view of the human person and human societies. CD parties in Germany and Italy were crucial in stopping the spread of Communism to Western Europe.