Sunday, March 04, 2007

Cañizeras on Europe

I have a dabbler's interest in differing conceptions of Europe, so I found this article by Cardinal Cañizeras of Spain very interesting, inasmuch as it lays out particularly clearly one very popular (but also very controversial) conception. My rough translation of part of the essay:

Europe is not a geographical continent, capable of being apprehended with clarity, but a concept, a cultural and historical unity. More than this, it is a "spiritual story". The same could be said of Spain. As a society and social ambience, Europe preexists in advance of the existence of the European nations; and Spain, in advance of the Nation that historically exists. With the words of Benedict XVI this past September in Ratisbonne, the elements that shape both achieve their unity in the encounter between the Greek "logos" and the "Logos" of Christian revelation: that is to say, in Christianity. Europe begins to be born with "the encounter between faith and reason, between authentic enlightenment and religion", which Christianity contains. If it is quite true that Europe and Christianity do not coincide, and have never coincided at all, it is also obviously true that the Christian matrix has been that which has given the European "humanitas" its peculiar impulse. As Europe, so also Spain truly was born Christian and for more than a millenium has existed as such. Contemplating their origins helps us to comprehend them in their historical course and to look to the future. With this sight rises the spontaneous question: Will the Europe of tomorrow, will the Spain of tomorrow, be Christian? They will be to the extent that they maintain their roots. But we are able to question ourselves even more thoroughly: Will Europe exist, will Spain, if they leave off being Christian, if they renounce their roots and Christian fundamentals? They will be some other thing, but not Europe, nor Spain either....The future of Europe cannot be in any way a "culture of nothing", of the void, of liberty without limits and without content, of relativism or of skepticism peddled as intellectual conquest, as seems to be the fundamental attitude of the European peoples. Only, to my understanding, the rediscovery of the Christian story, with all the burden that this carries, as a decided and decisive resurrection of the ancient soul of Europe, can offer the "firm and enduring hope to which we aspire". For the future of Europe, and of Spain, God cannot be relegated to the private sphere; forgetting and leaving behind God turns one against man and oneself. They cannot follow the road of humanism to the marginalizing of God. We can well say that "who fights for Europe fights also for democracy", but let us not forget that it is done under the indissoluble bond of eunomia, of a grounding of rights in unconditional moral norms....

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