Bishops see more selfish Europe 20 years after Berlin Wall fell

October 4, 2009


Photo; Irish “Yes” campaigners celebrate in Dublin, 3 Oct 2009/Cathal McNaughton)

Europe has become increasingly selfish and materialistic in the 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the heads of the Roman Catholic bishops’ conferences across Europe said at the end of their three-day annual meeting at the weekend.  “The crisis sweeping Europe today is serious,” they said in a statement after the session in Paris. They cited materialism, individualism and relativism as major challenges facing European society.

The bishops’ sober assessment contrasted with the upbeat mood that the overwhelming “Yes” vote in Ireland’s Lisbon Treaty referendum created.  It must be noted they drew up their statement before they’d heard the news from Dublin on Saturday. And their statement ended with a note of Christian hopefulness. Still, their diagnosis is so fundamental it’s hard to imagine they would have changed much in the text.

Here’s the way they put it:

“All that has happened since the fall of the Berlin Wall has been a great stepping stone in the European adventure… (but) twenty years later, we now see that the incredible European project, with a strong ethical basis, has greatly weakened… The hopes placed on building Europe have not so far been fulfilled. Here we take note of the influence of several factors:

  • “The development of the European Union has gone hand in hand with a growth in consumption, at least for some people. The mere constant acquisition of goods will never fill people’s hearts… The rules of the market and competition will never give birth to the ideal.
  • “Present society wishes to give to the individual every possible opportunity to exercise individual choice and to seek personal fulfilment. In doing so it risks simply locking the individual into the defence of self-interest or acquired benefits… A society in which each individual, each group, each nation defends only their own vested interests cannot but be the jungle… We should not be surprised then if mafia and terrorist organizations thrive against this background…
  • “A pluralistic society often risks being tempted by relativism, and particularly by ethical relativism. Each person sets their own norms and claims their own rights. Social life can only rest on common rules, on a vision of humanity that does not change according to shifting lobbies or opinion polls…

“The crisis sweeping Europe today is serious. Low birth rates and the future of its demography do not lead to optimism. However, we do not intend to be prophets of doom. Things are not necessarily doomed to get worse! Our faith calls us turn our attention to the European society in which we live, and to gaze on it with hope.”

Do you think materialism, individualism and relativism are the main problems nagging Europe? If so, will it take more than the feel-good factor from the Irish vote to put “EU show… back on the road” again?

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Europe is more selfish and materialistic…

Just some interesting story links.
Regards, SML

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Louis XIV : Apres moi le deluge. sh/

New Book: The Age of Aging, demographics are Changing… p?t=23423

New website prowomanprolife(dot)org

God Is a Problem, Sources Say: how secular newsrooms handle stories with a religious component gion/2153257/posts

Jürgen Habermas et l’Europe “postseculiere” 2/26.html#a3814

Claude Ryan p?p=108372#108372

Quebec parents pull students out of new class p?t=23244

Posted by SML | Report as abusive

Religion requires people to have suffering and lack of purpose. When people suffer or feel no purpose in life, they will be more likely to turn to a baseless unproven belief.

Hence it is no surprise that the more prosperous and happy a nation is, the less likely people feel the need for religion. In a world of science and logic, religion becomes irrelevent.

As the Son of (possibly nonexistant) God said: “Throw aside your crutches and walk”. Religion is a crutch. And humanity is slowly beginning to throw it away.

This is why the church is desperately attempting to pitch towards vulnerable people. The depressed, the poor, those scared of death, and the uneducated third world. To survive, it will do whatever is needed.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

The Vatican is getting increasingly bitter about the fact that they can no longer dictate to the governments of Europe what the law ought to be. But one need only look at European history to see that the Church itself enthusiastically oversaw some of the worst human rights disasters in history, often for no better reason than that it was politically convenient to them. How many Jews, Muslims and Protestant Christians have suffered or been murdered at the Vatican’s command down the centuries?

Europe is unquestionably suffering a spiritual decline. But this is caused by the skepticism that political Catholicism has infused into population as much as anything else. When religion becomes nothing more than a political party with a platform it is inevitable that cynicism will set in, and it has.

The Pope should spend less time ranting about freedom of speech or same-sex marriages and instead try to focus on spirituality. Otherwise he risks becoming just another right-wing politician, albeit with a more interesting wardrobe.

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive

Yes, materialism, individualism and relativism are the main problems nagging Europe and the Western world. Mankind nowadayas will do anything to liberate themselves from these “shackles” the Church put on them. They do so as to further enslave themselves in their vices to a point they can’t esacpe them.

People like to blame religion, and especially Christianity, for their woes since it doesn’t meet the needs of their main gods (materialism, technology, one’s own ego, etc.) They try to make meaning of the living God by anthropomorphisizng him to worldly objects and concepts. They want to go at it alone as if they have the answers or that some collective truths can answer them. The world can’t and never will solve their problems.

The path to eternal salvation and happiness is through God who is love. Love one another as you would want one to love you. I’m sure this will make many people uneasy and upset hearing this, but Jesus Christ’s message was not meant to be easy or accommodating in this world. His holy Catholic Church will survive hostile secular onslaughts as it has done for the past 2000 years and beyond. How you prepare yourself on this earth to conform to Christ, in order to enter his Kingdom, is what should be preoccupying your every thought and deed.

Posted by José | Report as abusive

This certainly does come across as the church’s attempt to fabricate a sense of urgency about a problem that doesn’t really exist. Just because they see materialism, individualism, and relativism as problematic, doesn’t mean everyone else does.

“Relativism” is really the result of people feeling more free to follow their own moral instincts rather than slavishly following those dictated by the church. This is surely a positive development, provided that it occurs within the law.

The Bishops’ lament that “consumption has increased” is almost comical. They paint a Bacchian, hedonist picture of Europe that is entirely false. Do they sincerely wish that people’s level of economic well-being revert to the poorer days before the fall of the Wall?

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

The greatest threat to Europe and the world in general is the same as it has always been………religion. Religion has caused more: pain, suffering, hatred, persecution, prejudice, and injustice than any other force in all of human civilization.

There is nothing more dangerous than moral certitude. When someone is 100% sure that they are right, the natural assumption is that everyone else with an opinion different than theirs must obviously be wrong.

It is this illusion of certainty that drives people to “save others from themselves”, regardless of whether or not the “help” is requested or desired. For our species to truly evolve to the next stage of human consciousness we first need to realize that religion is slavery, and our primitive notion of Gods and demons are no more “real” than leprechauns and magic spells.

I laugh when I hear people speaking about God as though it were a real, tangible entity. They scoff at the existence of some Gods such as Zeus or Poseidon, yet they adamantly defend with every ounce of strength and conviction in their bodies that “their” magical men in the sky are “real”. It’s lunacy, pure and simple.

Religions aren’t called “faiths” for no reason. They are called faiths because you need to have faith to believe in them and faith is nothing but the belief in something despite having no hard evidence whatsoever to justify it.

God is nothing more than a fantasy created by simple-minded fools to give them a false sense of control over things that their minds cannot comprehend. It is an emotional crutch for those too weak-willed to think for themselves and too fearful to see the world as it really is. It’s truly, truly pathetic in every sense of the word.

The ultimate irony is that the “believers” are not only oblivious to their ignorance; they actually relish it and fervently try to convert others to join them in their willful delusion.

Posted by Tom W. | Report as abusive

It is very interesting to read what the Bishop’s Conference just thought and wrote in that few days of brainstorming that they had! In fact I really think that all the people that have such social responsibilities should have more of these brainstorms! (no, I am not being sarcastic) But has usual, and like any other human being, this class of people don’t look to what examples it gives and transmits to everyday society.
Working for the church (I am not a priest or a deacon or make part of any career inside of the church) I do know what I am talking about. Of course that it is impossible to generalize, one never do it about any social matter. But in the Diocese that i work i see a lot of young, and not so young, priests driving their BMW´s and Mercedes, and wearing the Lacoste polo’s and Ralph Lauren shirts and God knows what more brand clothes it exists. You could say that i have not a damm thing about it, and you probably right. But you see, i attend regularly to the mess, every Sunday. And i get a little bit pissed off about the things that priests (sometimes the mentioned above) say, more or less in order with what the Bishops Conference thought about!
It is not that a priest or a bishop can’t wear a Lacost polo or drive a f#”+*ng Mercedes but you can not say one thing about consumption at the Sunday gospel and drive one! This people have a social responsibility, they should take more attention on “details” like this! I am not saying that a priest should give away all of his money to the poor, but some times i don’t even see them interested in talking face to face to the people.

Posted by ugo | Report as abusive

Your message doesn’t cause unease or upset, Jose.

Because nothing you say, or believe, has any evidence of being true. Which means there is no reason for people to treat what you say as being true.

Posted by Noah Idea | Report as abusive

These self righteous Bishops who take from anyone willing to give and then repay child abuse victims have no right to judge.
They have failed to convince the thinkers of this world that the church and the arrogant manner in which it conducts its affairs has any credibility.
Its suspect banking ventures and contacts with dubious organisations (One only has to read, In God’s Name)leave a lot to be desired.
If these self proclaimed men of God do not start to live their lives by practicising what they preach, the entire religious system will experience a crisis worse than the financial one we are presently experiencing.

Posted by Tom Gielink | Report as abusive

To the atheists of the world. You blame religion on most suffering. Was Hitler religious? Was Stalin? Religion is not the cause of the worlds suffering but rather the people who do not follow what religion teaches many of whom claimed to be religious but were not. If God does not exist you must rely on luck. List all the things that have happened in your life and state “It was all just luck”. Do you feel self insulted. Do you really think all that is in the universe is luck? Get real, God is real.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

Hitler was definitely religious and it had nothing to with the sacraments or refraining from eating pork. Hitler recognized the control over the thoughts, actions and lives that religion had and he bent it to his own ends. The Nazi propaganda machine was dedicated to portraying Hitler himself as a god so that the populace would follow his beliefs no matter how insane they were. Most Nazi symbols are also stolen from different religions. Sadly while the scale of the atrocities committed by the theocracy of the Third Reich is unparalleled, they are hardly original. See The Crusades and The Spanish Inquisition for other examples of genocide and persecution.

Posted by Enlightened | Report as abusive

It is true that several non-religious dictatorships are known for the atrocities commited against people.

But those dictators posessed certain qualities:

-They were self-rightous, and believed that they could only be right and all other people wrong.
-They refused to tolerate the existance of other points of view.
-In order to secure their power, they were willing to discriminate or punish people who defied them.

These are qualities which are shared by religion. Qualities which are core aspects of religion, and hence perpetuated by religion.

So it is true that religion was not responsible for the deaths caused by Pol Pot or Stalin. But in religion, you can see the same evils which led to them.

And having recognised the potential for those things in religion, society is beginning to reject religion for what it is. Self-rightousness and social control.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

“If God does not exist you must rely on luck.”

No. It means that luck, skill and our own ability are what determine our fate.

If you believe that a god somehow controls your destiny, it is not based on any real evidence.

The only way you could know a god controls your destiny, is if you were a god yourself. You are not a god. So you cannot know how your destiny is determined. So don’t pretend you do.

Posted by Noah Idea | Report as abusive