Europe in Crisis = Potentia Fidei

Well, Luxembourg doesn't often draw world news headlines, but today seems to be an exception. Although one of the smallest countries on earth, their recent decision to legalize euthanasia has incited discontent on many fronts, particularly in the Vatican. Last month, Luxembourg's parliament voted in favor of the legalization, despite the president's attempt to halt the effort. This all gained notable attention after the same president, Jean-Claude Juncker, visited with Pope Benedict in recent days. Even though there is another phase of ratification left before the legalization takes place, the odds are high that it will pass, which will make Luxembourg the third European nation to accept such a policy. What's more shocking: the small country is 87% Catholic. (Click here for the complete ZENIT story.)

This story just adds to the state of secularization sweeping the European continent. What once provided the seedbed for Christian virtue is currently becoming a haven of decadent practices staunchly opposed to that same model of virtue and knowledge of Christ. In fact, the problem in Europe is almost discouraging, and I think it would be a thoroughly inauspicious one if we did take a moment to realize a striking historical similarity: it was precisely the same environment of decadence and corruption in the Roman Empire that enabled Christians to witness most formidably to their faith.

If the axiom that "history repeats itself" holds any water, than even more accurate would be the presumption that "courageous tendencies of faith repeat themselves." After all, it is the same Holy Spirit who permeates the acts of fortitude and virtue for all Christians throughout the ages. Just as the Roman imperium caved in not because of external pressure, but because of internal degeneracy, so too modern Europe is experiencing a similar phenomenon. And, just as the rotting empire provided nourishment for souls stalwart in the faith, contemporary hedonism is quickly forming an environment of sure growth for those willing and ready to witness to the truth of Christ.

Ultimately, this struggle is the manifestation of a quest for true humanity; how is it actualized and achieved? Pope Benedict XVI writes that "faith is the fundamental act of Christian existence. In the act of faith, the essential structure of Christianity is expressed, the response which answers the question: 'In what way can we possibly realize our destiny, the destiny of our humanity?'" (cf. Ratzinger, L'Europa di Benedetto) As Tertullian tells us, "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the faith," and what better time for martyrs to arise than in the heat of an intense battle for human identity? Certainly, Pope John Paul II's proclamation of the "Springtime" of the Church was not blind to this phenomenon either. We are indeed living in the midst of the new evangelization, and the potential for faith is at a peak. Our responsibility is to actualize it.

  1. gravatar

    # by Anonymous - March 10, 2008 at 1:08 PM

    Andrew,

    This is an impressive site. I hope people at home are taking advantage of it and reading your observations and insights. I couldn't find the infamous comment of which you and Fr. Duarte were speaking.... oh well. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Fr. Duarte was right; this is a very good site.

    Peace,
    Michael Lantagne