The State of the Church in Europe

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Written on 5:05 PM by Jack B.

Zenit has a story about a new books thats says the U.N. and European Union are using double standards when it comes to Christianity: Christianity Out in the Cold

Excerpt:

The authors, Eugenia Roccella and Lucetta Scaraffia, contend that the changes described in the human rights field are notable. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations in 1948 made no mention of "reproductive rights." A key reason why this changed, argues the book, lies in the cultural upheaval of the 1960s. Those years witnessed a sort of "cultural revolution" not only in the area of sexuality, but also in the very concept of rights.

In the wake of the upheaval, the book states, sexual activity became divorced from its link with procreation, the idea of individual autonomy was exalted, human life was reduced to mere biological material to be manipulated in the laboratory, and humanity tried to construct a new utopia based on the satisfaction of sexual desires. In turn, this utopian vision was increasingly imposed on Third World countries by international organizations, often forcibly, by linking the reproductive rights program to financial aid.

International institutions see the Catholic Church, along with some other religious groups, as a threat to this way of conceiving rights. As well, the Church's position on some women's issues, such as the refusal to admit them to the priesthood, has made it a target of strong criticism. This culminated, the book observes, in the European Union's refusal to even acknowledge the Christian heritage in Europe in the preface of the new Constitution
From the National Catholic Register: Is the Faith Dead in France? Not Quite... by Sabrina Arena Ferrisi

Excerpt:
French men and women who call themselves “Catholic” constitute about 70% of the population. Only 8% to 10% of the Catholic population goes to Sunday Mass, compared to 40% to 45% in the 1960s.

But the situation is far from hopeless, given that the 10% of French Catholics that do practice numbers 6 million persons.

“They represent the practicing Catholics who are truly faithful, who transmit their faith to their children. This is a reason for hope which is very important,” said Caroline Bouan, a journalist with Famille Chr├ętienne (The Christian Family) magazine. “These Catholics are very attached to their faith. They know why they are practicing their faith. They try to fill their shortcomings through catechism, prayer, etc. These lay people are more involved in their parishes and in Catholic movements throughout the Church.”

This new “minority” lives in a difficult environment. This year marks the centenary of the formal separation of Church and state in France — a separation often referred to as “laicism,” whereby religion is something strictly personal. The state avoids anything to do with religion.

To put things in perspective, when Pope John Paul II died, the U.S. government ordered flags to be flown at half-mast for seven days. In France, flags were flown at half- mast for only one day.

And even that one day sparked protests. “This created a big scandal,” said Miriam Bellecca, an American living in Paris. ”Left-wing politicians went on the news saying that there was no excuse for such an action.”

“It was a huge controversy,” confirmed Antoine-Marie Izoard, Vatican correspondent for I. Media, a Catholic French press agency. “If you look at the condolence letter which President [Jacques] Chirac sent, he wrote that ‘for those who believe in God’ the loss of Pope John Paul II was great. Chirac’s personal position, as one who doesn’t believe, was very clear. It reflects this way of seeing the Church as something bad.”

Bellecca recalled an incident where her brother-in-law wore a wooden cross in school. His teacher lifted him up by his shirt collar and warned him to never wear it again.

“I’m not sure this is anti-Catholicism per se,” Bellecca said, “or just an absurd attachment to the fact that France is ‘laicist.’ The French just want to keep religion out of the public sphere and would go equally crazy to see a boy wearing a [yarmulke] or a girl with a headscarf.

“In France, the emphasis is on being equal and not different. They say diversity only leads to ghettos and discrimination,” added Bellecca.

The brave Archbishop of Denver speaks out in Denver: Denver's Chaput flogs Europe, saying it is forsaking Christianity

Excerpt:

Chaput was among nine members of a State Department delegation led by New York Gov. George Pataki. The two-day conference, "Anti-Semitism and Other Forms of Intolerance," in Cordoba, Spain, was sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

In his address, Chaput traced Europe's Christian roots and decried abandonment of that heritage by the continent's prevailing culture.

Secularism has been a growing influence in Europe. The European Union's constitution makes no mention of the continent's Christian heritage. There also is momentum to extend euthanasia laws and marriage rights to gay couples.

Chaput cited legal restrictions of religious expression and open contempt of religious symbols.

"Programs like How To Cook a Crucifix (a show aired on Spanish TV last December), and sacramental confessions recorded without the confessor's knowledge are deeply contemptuous of Catholic believers," Chaput said.

"This is unworthy of Europe's moral dignity and religious heritage. Furthermore, it stands in stark contrast to OSCE commitments to promote religious freedom."

Chaput said "an equally dangerous trend" was state-encouraged ridicule and intolerance of public expressions of faith, often derided as fundamentalism.

And of course the final vote is in and the Italian fertility referendum has failed in a big way, thanks to Church efforts.

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