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LJ friend reminds us in his Blog
(http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/2016/06/how-benedict-xvi-predicted-brexit.html) that Pope Benedict XVI, through his writings, predicted the collapse of the European Union.
Europe, and, by extension, the Western world, has only ever come close to unity by virtue of a common creed. Benedict roots the idea of Europe in the Christianized Roman Empire which, “in connection with the book of Daniel, the Roman Empire – renewed and transformed by the Christian faith – was considered to be the final and permanent kingdom in the history of the world.”
A union without genuine cultural unity, shared mission, and a rooted sense of value will not penetrate to the lowest levels of the community as a felt phenomenon of familial relation. Both the arguments for and against the British exit — focused as they were on the relative economic benefits of remaining or leaving the European Union — showed that whoever won, Europe had already lost. A unity of self-interested nation-states is about as stable as a family of self-interested brothers and sisters. Without an ethical and spiritual unity, it is only a question of time before a person, a community, or a nation asks, “And what is this communion doing for me?”

Again, Benedict noted this rather incisively: “Over the last fifty years, this [monetary] aspect of European unification has become ever more dominant, indeed, almost exclusively influential. The common European currency is the clearest expression of this in the work of European unification: Europe appears as an economic and monetary union, which as such participates in the formation of history and lays claim to a space of its own.” (Reflections on Europe, 2001)
The continued effort of the European Union to achieve unity through money and national self-interest has kept it far from Benedict’s healing advice: “Europe, as a political idea, must finally replace the model of the nation state with a generous concept of cultural fellowship, with a solidarity that embraces all of mankind.”

Benedict’s basic thesis — that true unity depends on the pre-economic and even pre-political foundations of value, morality, mission, and creed — has a lesson for those ex-Europeans on the other side of the Atlantic. Populism, and even racist populism, is not simply the result of poverty or economic crisis. It is very often an evil reaction against a feigned togetherness. For while we seldom hate a person simply for their differences, we are very often tempted to hate a person when we are pushed together, told that we are neighbours and friends when there is no tangible bond of unity between us — some shared truth, history, or creed.


we have a very different history on this side of the Atlantic

our unity comes from our allegiance to a document - our constitution
it unites us no matter what our original origins or cultural patterns

our continued struggle comes from our "sin" of slavery - the belief in the inherent superiority of one kind of people over another

we fought a great and bloody was to preserve our union and expiate that "sin" - but the legacy of the war a mere 150 years ago lives on

Europe has a deeper history of enmity - a very mere 70 years ago - still within the lifetimes of some

we have a history of populism and nativism - it pops up every so often - and we move on
we are big and diverse - different areas have different values - but we keep together because our history has shown us the value of union

Europe has a long way to go
common interests is a binder - in this day of different cultures and creeds it may be the strongest link to hold people together

Edited at 2016-06-26 13:25 (UTC)
As an American, I have to take exception to that last sentence. Americans hate each other because we're told to, from birth, mostly in the church but also in almost everything that passes for political discourse.
as an old american, i take an exception to artkouros
that is most certainly NOT what i was taught!

yes, the churches, including the catholic church, have not been helpful with their emphasis on "sin" and excluding "them" from "us"

but my educational and political experiences have been of inclusion and the need to embrace the other as fellow americans in the struggle to live our ideals

Edited at 2016-06-26 16:08 (UTC)

I'm glad your experience was different from mine.  I was raised in a racially  segregated church and segregated schools, and ever since the Fairness Doctrine was done away with the airwaves are filled with derision and devisivness.

sorry yours was so negative
May you have better
I'm not sure where you get that....
"We breathe the same air. We'd better learn how to get along."


your comments reminded me of what one of the signers of our Declaration of Independence is supposed to have said
"we had best all hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately"
apocryphal most likely but very apt
It was my understanding the Benedict had resigned from the Papacy and that Francis is now Pope. The problem is that, given the freedom to choose, not everyone will choose the same set of values and priorities. The good news is that two people need not see the world in the same way for them both to cherish cooperation, compassion and other behaviors that each religion and culture claims for itself alone.
You are correct about Benedict. Francis is now Pope since Benedict stepped down. Benedict is technically Pope Emeritus.
Does that mean that Benedict, even as a lay writer, cannot make a statement about the nature of the European Union of which he is a citizen? In this matter he is not 'pontificating'.
I'm assuming that the previous poster was confused by the fact that you mentioned Benedict as "Pope" rather than "Pope Emeritus".

He can make any statement that he wants and I said nothing about him doing so.

> Europe, and, by extension, the Western world, has only ever come close to unity by virtue of a common creed.

Historically, it's come close to unity many times by the sword, including when the common creed was enforced by the sword.

> Benedict’s basic thesis — that true unity depends on the pre-economic and even pre-political foundations of value, morality, mission, and creed

Sure, finding a post-metaphysical universal morality is the challenge of modernity. We're not there yet.