When Prime Minister Vladimír Špidla of the Czech Republic made a state visit to the United States in 2003, the European Union (EU) was considering a “constitution.” In spite of considerable opposition, the constitution’s supporters succeeded in making sure that the document make no mention of Europe’s Christian roots – in fact, they opposed even the mention of religion.
At an informal dinner, I asked Prime Minister Špidla to explain this view, which he supported.
“I have just returned from Athens,” he told me. “It is there, and not in Rome, that Europe finds its true roots.”
Welcome to the Europe of the Unknown God. (Acts 17:23)
In the years since, the EU has been perpetuating that argument in countless ways on multiple fronts. Today it is a full-fledged war.
If Prime Minister Špidla loved Athens so much, why didn’t he know his Aristotle? Why ignore Aristotle’s simple principle of cause and effect? After all, when Christendom is ripped from its Christian roots, what must come to pass? What is left?
Cardinal Robert Sarah answered that question bluntly in a recent address in Poland. Europe “is now plunging into nihilism,” he observed, turning away from the flesh-and-blood realities of history and nature to embrace instead vapid content-free abstractions. “Europe, built on faith in Christ, cut off from its Christian roots, is now in a period of quiet apostasy,” he said.
Perhaps you’ve heard about Poland’s reaffirmation of the Catholic Faith, when over a million Poles went to the country’s borders to pray the Rosary on the Feast of Our Lady of Victory. There they begged Our Lady to keep Poland Catholic and free.
Well, Now Poland’s neighbors have joined in the call to preserve Christianity. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has rejected the demands of the EU bureaucracy that all EU members allow unlimited immigration into their respective countries from Islamic countries.
The diktat from Brussels, the EU’s “capital,” is an “attack on our sovereignty,” says Orbán, and he should know. Two years ago he pointed to his country’s unique history: “When it comes to living together with Muslim communities, we Hungarians are the only Europeans who have experience, because we had the possibility to go through that experience for 150 years.”
The new arrivals, said Orbán, “have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims. This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity…. I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country. We do not like the consequences of having a large number of Muslim communities that we see in other countries, and I do not see any reason for anyone else to force us to create ways of living together in Hungary that we do not want to see.”
Just what is Orbán referring to?
Polish Minister Mariusz Blaszczak recently observed that “The migration crisis is the most serious problem affecting Europe” and that the crisis was caused “by the irresponsible acting of some European leaders.”
And those leaders are rapidly losing the support of their people. Traditional establishment parties are losing all over Europe. Scotland, Catalonia, Italy’s Northern League, Germany’s Bavaria – the list is growing every day.
A week ago “over 95 percent of residents of Italy’s Lombardy region voted in favor of greater autonomy for the region during a non-binding referendum,” Lombardy President Roberto Maroni said.
Meanwhile, Europe’s Left just keeps on drifting. The Republic of Ireland honors the murderous terrorist Che Guevara. Sweden is quickly becoming the rape capital of the world. Since 90% of the assailants are identified as “foreigners running in gangs,” Sweden tries to placate them with a stamp featuring a Mosque.
In Germany, terrorist Jihadis are so numerous that police assigned to monitoring them demand they take weekends off. And last week, Italy’s foreign minister said that migration seen in the Mediterranean “is only the tip of the iceberg of an exodus that may end up being of Biblical proportions.”
Even the commercial world is catching on.
Supermarket giant Lidl airbrushes a Christian cross from its packaging “in order not to hurt the sensibility of non-Christian costumers.” Nestlé follows suit with its Greek yogurt.
Where voters have a voice, they speak. In Austria, two conservative parties will join in a government for the first time in memory, leaving the socialists in the opposition and the Greens out of Parliament altogether. In the Czech Republic, Andrej Babis, known affectionately as the “Czech Donald Trump,” was elected Prime Minister last Sunday, and immediately called for other European countries to join him in a coalition to stop illegal immigration into their countries. Every EU country allowing such immigration has suffered a staggering rise in sexual assaults, with Afghans apparently the most prominent aggressors (American soldiers stationed in Afghanistan saw first-hand the rank perversion rampant among Afghan Pashtuns, but were forbidden by the Pentagon to stop it or even to mention it).
Unfortunately, the EU has responded not with firm and decisive programs to protect its people, but by telling journalists not to interview “extremists” about the massive problems, nor to mention the ethnicity of apprehended criminals.
Great Britain has voted to leave the EU, but Intelligence Director General Andrew Parker recently reported that terrorist operations are already “at a scale and a pace we have not seen before.” London is now a more dangerous place than New York City.
Renowned Middle East expert Bernard Lewis is blunt. Muslims “seem to be about to take over Europe,” he tells The Jerusalem Post, and future prospects are grim. “Will it be an Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam,” he asks.
What does all this mean for America? Like the EU state-controlled media, U.S. Opposition Media are as silent on the mortal threat to Europe as they are regarding our own immigration crisis. Dr. Angelo Codevilla, our friend wh has spent a lifetime studying intelligence and foreign policy, doesn’t see the U.S. to be so far gone as Europe, but he says that “Europe’s un-sustainable socio-economic model—bureaucratized economies, social welfare, and demographic decline” are a warning to the U.S. “Mass migration into Euro-American civilization,” he writes, “especially people from the Muslim world who neither share in nor sympathize with that civilization—is accelerating the crisis. Confidence in the future is being replaced by the sense that living as before will be impossible.”
On October 1, Pope Francis spoke to a group of migrants in Bologna, calling them “the warriors of hope.”
But if they are “warriors,” against whom are they waging war?
This is PRI Review from pop.org. We’ll be right back.
Japanese Government Says Shrinking Population is the “Biggest Challenge” for Economic Growth
And as the Effects of Population Decline are Being Felt, Toyota Forced to Cut Auto Lineup
Jonathan Abbamonte reports.
For decades, population growth in Japan has been below replacement levels. Demographers have long warned that the country’s low birth rate, combined with low immigration, are unsustainable. In recent years, the population has now begun to shrink and the country’s demographic decline has become a considerable obstacle to economic growth.
Many Japanese have now come to realize the seriousness of the situation. Following a decisive election victory for his party over the weekend, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday promised to tackle population shrinkage and aging as one of the two main objectives of his new government.
“This election was about chiefly the North Korea threat and also about the declining birth rate,” Abe said in a press conference, “if we don’t do something now, it will be too late.”
Abe called the demographic decline “the biggest challenge” for economic growth going forward. “The problem is progressing by the minute, and we cannot afford waiting around,” Abe said according to UPI.
As a case in point, auto manufacturing giant Toyota Motor Corporation also recently announced that it is planning to cut in half the number of car models it sells in Japan by 2025, according to Reuters.
Auto companies have struggled to maintain sales in Japan in the context of a shrinking market. According to data tracked by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc. (JAMA), over 32.3 million passenger vehicles were sold in Japan from 1995-1999. But by 2010-2014 auto sales had plummeted by nearly a third, to only 24.5 million vehicles.
Auto sales in Japan have declined in part due to population aging, a by-product of several decades of sub-replacement fertility. The younger generation has also shown less interest in owning personal vehicles, partly a symptom of increasing urbanization and the emptying out of many rural areas.
Toyota now plans to cut the number of models it will sell in Japan from 62 in its current lineup, down to 30 models in the coming years, according to Reuters. The automaker has signaled that it will pursue a number of strategies in an effort to maintain sales of at least 1.5 million vehicles a year. According to JAMA, Toyota is Japan’s largest automaker in terms of the number of new and used passenger vehicles sold annually in the East Asian nation.
The impending weakening of the auto industry is yet another symptom of the county’s long road to demographic decline.
According to estimates from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) Population Division, total fertility in Japan has been below replacement since at least the late 1970’s.
There are simply not enough babies being born for the next generation to replace the current one. Following decades of below replacement fertility, the population is now shrinking.
While fertility rates have rebounded slightly over the past decade, the most recent estimates show that the total fertility rate (TFR) in 2014 sat at an anemic 1.42, according to the Statistic Bureau of Japan, far below the estimated replacement fertility rate which sits at 2.07.
That same year saw the number of live births slipping to just over 1 million, the lowest number of births ever recorded for the ‘Land of the Rising Sun.’
According to population estimates from the Statistics Bureau of Japan, the country’s total population peaked in 2008. It has been declining every year since 2010. By 2016, Japan had lost over 1.1 million people.
Excluding migration, the population of Japan last year declined by 295,865 persons, roughly the equivalent of the population of Cincinnati, Ohio. Even after accounting for net gains from immigration, however, the total population still shrank by over 160,000 people.
The Statistic Bureau of Japan pegs the current population at 126 million. But steep declines are expected over the next few decades. According to a report of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, as cited by the BBC, the Government estimates the population will decline to 87 million by 2060. By that time, the Ministry estimates 40% of the population will be of retirement age.
UNDESA Population Division figures project that Japan’s population will decrease to 103 million by 2060, a less precipitous but still alarming decline.
Japan’s demographic decline is expected to bring significant challenges for the island nation in the years to come. The Japanese have the highest life expectancy in the world. With old-age dependency set to rise, proportionally fewer working age adults will be around to care for them or to pay into social support systems.
As Toyota’s plans suggest, Japan’s population decline will continue to hamper future economic growth. Japan is currently the world’s third largest economy after the United States and China, according to the World Economic Forum—a status the East Asian nation is unlikely to keep for very long if population decline continues.
It remains uncertain to what extent Japan’s demographic decline will impact economic growth. But without a reversal of the current population trends, it can be expected that Japan’s economic, military and geopolitical influence—and consequently, also those of its principal allies and trading partners—will likely suffer.
Saving Magisterial Truth
Since the election of Donald Trump, officials at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have commended the president’s actions on six specific issues: religious liberty, the HHS mandate, UN abortion funding, Planned Parenthood funding, the Mexico City policy (regarding US funding of international abortions), and “transgender” student regulations.
Since last November, USCCB officials have also attacked the president’s positions on over a dozen key issues, including healthcare, the travel ban, refugee policy, Cuba policy, the Paris agreement, the death penalty, global warming, the environment, migration, immigration, foreign aid, sanctuary cities, deportations, and border security.
In both cases our bishops have done this formally and publicly, citing the authority of Catholic social teaching and their authority as bishops.
What you might notice, and what the bishops don’t mention, is this: while all those Trump positions commended by the bishops address magisterial issues involving objective goods and objective evils, all of the Trump policies condemned by the bishops entail what the Church calls “prudential issues.”
What’s the difference? Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church adopted at the Second Vatican Council, explains the difference between the two categories: First, in Lumen Gentium No. 12, we learn that, “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful, they [the faithful] show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals.”
So in magisterial matters regarding religious liberty, marriage and the family, and the inalterable truths expressed in Humanae Vitae, our bishops and the faithful alike are “bound to adhere” to the teaching of the Church “in matters of faith and morals”; and therefore we are bound to commend the president’s policies that involve issues in the first category, since every one of them either inhibits an objective evil ( abortion, contraception) or defends an objective good (the nature and dignity of the person, religious liberty).
In Number 37, Lumen Gentium addresses the second category, in which the bishops condemn a variety of specific prudential Republican initiatives. Regarding this category, the Church teaches us two vital principles:
First, these initiatives involve policy particulars on which good Catholics, and good people generally, have not only the right but the duty to exercise the authority bestowed upon us by God to act prudentially and faithfully in the social and political realm. We can even, in good faith, disagree on specifics, since many paths are often available to serve the common good.
Second, advocating particular approaches to such prudential issues is not the province of the clergy and the hierarchy, but precisely of the laity, “by reason of the knowledge, competence or pre-eminence which they have.”
So when it comes to the positions of President Trump: when it comes to moral magisterial issues that Catholics are bound to support, the bishops support him However, on every issue on which Catholics can disagree, our bishops oppose the President, usually supporting instead the agenda of Barack Obama.
It’s clear that the hierarchy is often tempted to stray into the realm reserved to the laity; in fact, that temptation has proven so strong over the centuries that it has been repeatedly condemned by the Church (including Pope Francis) by its proper name, “clericalism.”
Planting The Seeds Of Relativism
Today the errors spawned by clericalism are widespread in the American Church – and their spread has a history.
In the late 1970s, Mark Gallagher, the chief pro-life lobbyist at the USCCB, urged the bishops to defend the Church’s magisterial teaching, which were under ferocious assault after Roe v. Wade. Gallagher urged bishops specifically to “educate and correctly form the consciences of American Catholics” about the primacy of the sanctity of life in the pursuit of the Common Good. Specifically, he urged the bishops to make clear that “those candidates who refused to support the Common Good would be morally unacceptable for public office.”
However, Gallagher reports in Crisis Magazine, the USCCB’s much larger “social justice” staff disagreed; after all, “their goals and prudential judgments were more reflected by the Democrats in Congress.”
The battle lines were drawn. Forty years ago a majority of prolife Catholics were Democrats; the conference’s “social justice” staffers feared that, if the bishops put the prolife issue in its proper preeminent place, many pro-lifers would become Republicans, given the radical pro-abortion stance quickly spreading among Democrat officeholders at the time. The “social justice” advocates feared that “[t]his shift in the Catholic vote would necessarily hurt their legislative agenda,” Gallagher writes, thus reducing support for welfare-state programs in Congress. So these staffers convinced the bishops “to undertake a campaign to convince Catholics that there was justification to vote for pro-abortion candidates.”
Well, there you have it: at the headquarters of America’s bishops, the sanctity of life was sacrificed on the altar of “social justice.” But that altar was also strewn with other idols. After all, the bishops did not want to embarrass prominent pro-abortion Catholics, either – Catholics like Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, Mario Cuomo, and other Democrats whose support was critical to continue the generous federal funding that was directed to the bishops’ own welfare agencies.
Welcome, dear reader, to the “Seamless Garment.”
Why The Silence?
“The bishops have continued on their failed course for forty years, with fateful, disastrous results,” Gallagher laments. Indeed, the USCCB “social justice” staffers have convinced two generations of bishops to act as though their welfare-state agenda is as magisterial as the sanctity of life – that the (increasingly radical and pro-abortion) platform of the Democrat Party is as binding on Catholics as Humanae Vitae. This profoundly defective and destructive view abides to this day, as witnessed by a simple question which over a dozen major USCCB leaders have refused to answer when asked about their advocacy of their partisan agendas:
“Your Excellency: am I ‘bound to adhere’ to your political opinion with the same ‘religious submission of mind’ with which I am required to adhere to the teaching of Humanae Vitae (viz. Canon 753)?
“Or is the view you express merely your personal opinion, with which the laity have not only the right but often the duty to disagree (viz. Lumen Gentium, especially No. 37)?”
The bishops’ silence goes beyond their refusal to answer simple questions.
Unfortunately, most are also silent about the truths so beautifully illuminated in Humanae Vitae, the encyclical of Blessed Paul VI promulgated 49 years ago next week. Indeed, any honest review of the bishops’ advocacy in recent years will reveal that, as their political partisan advocacy has increased, their teaching of magisterial truths has decreased in inverse proportion.
As USCCB President Timothy Cardinal Dolan admitted in 2012, most bishops have had “laryngitis” on Humane Vitae – for fifty years!
And the silence has spread. Many of the most vocal anti-Trump bishops are represented in Congress or the Senate by pro-abortion Catholic elected officials. The Wanderer has contacted staff in the offices of Catholic politicians with 100% NARAL (pro-abortion) ratings in Newark, New Jersey; Brownsville and El Paso, Texas; Stockton and Los Angeles, California; and Richmond, Virginia; not one can find any record of their bishop having publicly condemned their boss’s pro-abortion position, by name, the way he has attacked the policies of Donald Trump.
Why the silence? At the Convocation held in Orlando earlier this year, USCCB president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston unconsciously confirmed his conference’s failure to teach Lumen Gentium’s fundamental teaching.
“Way back when,” Cdl. DiNardo tells an interviewer, “I was chair of the Pro-Life Committee. Conference staffers “were trying to figure out how we can deal, within the Church, with points of view that really should be complementary but sometimes are in tension … the pro-life and the social justice people, for instance.”
For the President of the USCCB, “social justice” and the sanctity of life are just two “points of view.” Obama’s welfare-state agenda and Humanae Vitae should have the same authoritative status.
Pro-lifers apparently just haven’t yet gotten the bishops’ message, after forty years, that the Democrat Party welfare-state platform “really ought to be complementary” with their defense of life.
Humanae Vitae’s 50th birthday is coming next July 25th. Is your diocese going to celebrate it?
This has been the PRI Review from pop.org. Thanks for listening.