It’s not every day that the Pope addresses the European Parliament (the last time was John Paul II in 1988). So the amiable Pope Francis I’s coming to give speak before the Strasbourg assembly and a to the Council of Europe (a Cold War-era pan-European institution including Russia, not an EU body) was a major event for the full house of MEPs and Eurocrats in attendance (notwithstanding the solemnity such an occasion might warrant, a number of representatives underscored their teenage-girl-like giddiness and puerility with the mandatory “selfies”).
I would argue the event was also a significant one for White Nationalists, European Identitarians and all those concerned about the future of Europeans world-wide. The Pope, as head of the Catholic Church, is a significant figure for all Europeans be they religious or not. With the formation of Christendom, the medieval Church played a critical role in religiously, culturally, legally and indeed civilizationally uniting Europeans to a significant degree (albeit incompletely, notably with the East-West schism). This unity had important practical implications: intermarriage and alliances among European aristocrats of different ethnic groups, a common elite language (Latin), the formalization and spread of the Roman custom of exogamous monogamy (in stark contrast with the Islamic World), and indeed the attempts to organize and unite Christian Europeans against the Islamic invaders (successfully in Spain, temporarily in the Holy Land, and disastrously in the Byzantine Empire).
The Pope speaks for a religious institution which at one time embodied European unity and which sought to reconcile the varying interests of our Christian Kings, just as the European Union claims to represent the European interest, with our Presidents and Prime Ministers meeting in Council. For the Pope to speak before the Union’s elected representatives and functionaries is then charged with symbolism. What will he say of the European interest?
The message was unsurprisingly largely unsatisfying, even alarming in places, although the pontiff was careful to give a “balanced” message with a bit of meat for most every constituency. In particular, Francis said on the subject of immigration:
There needs to be a united response to the question of migration. We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery! The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance. The absence of mutual support within the European Union runs the risk of encouraging particularistic solutions to the problem, solutions which fail to take into account the human dignity of immigrants, and thus contribute to slave labor and continuing social tensions. Europe will be able to confront the problems associated with immigration only if it is capable of clearly asserting its own cultural identity and enacting adequate legislation to protect the rights of European citizens and to ensure the acceptance of immigrants. Only if it is capable of adopting fair, courageous and realistic policies which can assist the countries of origin in their own social and political development and in their efforts to resolve internal conflicts – the principal cause of this phenomenon – rather than adopting policies motivated by self-interest, which increase and feed such conflicts. We need to take action against the causes and not only the effects. [my emphasis]
Francis’s message thus bordered on contradiction: Europeans must be able to “assert their cultural identity” while “ensur[ing] the acceptance of immigrants” who are clearly a threat to it. He also urged tackling economic and political problems (one would be tempted to add Western-stoked wars in Libya and Syria) that are causing immigration, to which I think every good European nationalist would agree.
Francis returned to this theme in the second speech:
Similarly, the contemporary world offers a number of other challenges requiring careful study and a common commitment, beginning with the welcoming of migrants, who immediately require the essentials of subsistence, but more importantly a recognition of their dignity as persons.
He added that “awareness of one’s own identity” is necessary for good dialogue with candidate EU countries in the Balkans or with the Islamic countries of the Mediterranean.
The message was received by the Parliament’s mainstream representatives as a call to soften immigration policy. The Socialists & Democrats (representing center-left socialist and social-democratic parties, e.g. Britain’s Labour Party) interpreted this as meaning that Europeans “must step up their efforts to reinforce the humanitarian element of EU migration policies by ensuring effective legal and safe routes to Europe.” They added words echoing the phraseology of the U.S. debate: “The thousands of deaths every year remind us just how broken Europe’s system of dealing with refugees really is.”
Meanwhile the center-right European People’s Party (the biggest group, representing mainstream conservatives and Christian-Democrats) said it would “make every effort to apply Pope Francis’ advice on EU immigration policy.” They were not very specific however, urging a reduction in poverty and “that Europe must reconcile the rights of European citizens with the dignified reception of immigrants” in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Even the French National Front (FN) reacted relatively positively, admittedly in the person of the impeccable bourgeois Catholic Bruno Gollnisch:
On immigration, who could object to the affirmation that we cannot resign ourselves to the Mediterranean becoming a cemetery? But here too the message, firm on the duty to receive, is extremely balanced: more than the effects, he said, one must attack the causes, among which underdevelopment and conflicts in the Mediterranean which have (unfortunately with our participation) destabilized the States of origin.
Gollnisch also welcomed the defense of spirituality, the family and “the devastating effects of a globalized, purely materialist economy.” In any case, old guard of FN leaders, having the Right’s traditional respect for hierarchy and authority, probably don’t believe it is their place to criticize the head of the Catholic Church.
We would have to agree with Francis’ assessment that Europe today is basically a dying continent. He didn’t pronounce the word “senile” although he may as well have:
In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a “grandmother”, no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions. [my emphasis]
One hopes he does not believe immigration would contribute to making Europe more “fertile and vibrant”! It is likely his words will only be interpreted metaphorically. More generally, it is astounding how much the continent’s elites are dedicating their political and cultural energies to “free trade,” climate change or empowering EU institutions — these goals being pursued with the fervor of a moral panic, as though they were panaceas to what ails us. In contrast, there is little effort to mobilize society to fight against low fertility so as to avoid the fundamental, intractable problems associated with it. All the economic and political fiddling in the world is pointless if the biological basis of society is collapsing.
Francis likewise said of Europe’s decline:
As the European Union has expanded, the world itself has become more complex and ever changing; increasingly interconnected and global, it has, as a consequence, become less and less “Eurocentric”. Despite a larger and stronger Union, Europe seems to give the impression of being somewhat elderly and haggard, feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion.
Francis also seemed to criticize the EU’s deracinating, uniformizing tendencies:
The motto of the European Union is United in Diversity. Unity, however, does not mean uniformity of political, economic and cultural life, or ways of thinking. Indeed, all authentic unity draws from the rich diversities which make it up: in this sense it is like a family, which is all the more united when each of its members is free to be fully himself or herself. I consider Europe as a family of peoples who will sense the closeness of the institutions of the Union when these latter are able wisely to combine the desired ideal of unity with the diversity proper to each people, cherishing particular traditions, acknowledging its past history and its roots, liberated from so many manipulations and phobias. Affirming the centrality of the human person means, above all, allowing all to express freely their individuality and their creativity, both as individuals and as peoples.
Europe needs roots to flourish:
Throughout its history, Europe has always reached for the heights, aiming at new and ambitious goals, driven by an insatiable thirst for knowledge, development, progress, peace and unity. But the advance of thought, culture, and scientific discovery is entirely due to the solidity of the trunk and the depth of the roots which nourish it. Once those roots are lost, the trunk slowly withers from within and the branches — once flourishing and erect — bow to the earth and fall. This is perhaps among the most baffling paradoxes for a narrowly scientific mentality: in order to progress towards the future we need the past, we need profound roots.
The Pope had a good deal of criticism of globalization which would ring true with nationalists, attacking “many globalizing tendencies,” the threats to democracy from “pressure of multinational interests which are not universal . . . at the service of unseen empire,” “globalization of indifference” and individualism. He called for a “transcendent dignity” entailing “the possibility of freely expressing one’s thoughts” and opposing “all types of discrimination.”
Francis also called for “humanization” and argues that “achieving the good of peace first calls for educating to peace, banishing a culture of conflict aimed at fear of others, marginalizing those who think or live differently than ourselves,” which I read as a call to “educate” people into liking multiculturalism.
Ultimately, our droit-de-l’hommiste Pope often sounds like a feel-good left-universalist speaking of ecology, labor, human rights, the loneliness of the elderly, selfishness, “throwaway culture,” the excess in technology … the only thing an “infantile leftist” might object to is his very brief mentioning abortion. Dignity is not possible when a person “lacks food and the bare essentials of survival.” Our spiritual void is feeding “the many forms of extremism.”
Whether all this is very Catholic I don’t know. But if this were to entail welcoming hundreds or thousands of immigrants from Africa and the Middle East every day, this is simply not compatible with the continued existence of European nations. In the days before the speech, 600 illegal immigrants were saved by the Italian coastguard off the coast of Italy and 700 off the Greek coast. Some 165,000 migrants have arrived in this manner in Italy this year so far, almost quadruple the number which arrived in 2013. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, meeting his Italian counterpart, took a defeatist tone, saying: “We cannot solve this problem within a few weeks or even months. It will take years. . . . Everybody agrees that a policy of putting up barriers . . . is not an answer to this problem.”
These waves have been caused in part by recent events such as chaotic destruction of Iraq, Syria and Libya by Western governments, under Zionist/neoconservative influence. More ominously still, the migratory pressure on Europe will only increase in the medium-to-long term as the population of Africa triples in this century (the population of Nigeria alone is expected to have over 500 million people, bigger than the entire EU) and, if there is any truth to climate change, as equatorial ecosystems will be destroyed.
Francis also discussed Europeans’ unique “openness to the transcendent”:
One of the most celebrated frescoes of Raphael is found in the Vatican and depicts the so-called “School of Athens”. Plato and Aristotle are in the centre. Plato’s finger is pointed upward, to the world of ideas, to the sky, to heaven as we might say. Aristotle holds his hand out before him, towards the viewer, towards the world, concrete reality. This strikes me as a very apt image of Europe and her history, made up of the constant interplay between heaven and earth, where the sky suggests that openness to the transcendent — to God – which has always distinguished the peoples of Europe, while the earth represents Europe’s practical and concrete ability to confront situations and problems.”
The future of Europe depends on the recovery of the vital connection between these two elements. A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life is a Europe which risks slowly losing its own soul and that “humanistic spirit” which it still loves and defends.
It goes without saying that European peoples, with their unique Faustian spirit, will not be able to reach for the stars if they are submerged in a rising tide of mud.