Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Is Christianity Dying In Europe?

Father McKenzie, writing the words of a sermon
That no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working, darning his socks in the night
When there's nobody there, what does he care?

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried
Along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands
As he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people, where do they all come from?
All the lonely people, where do they all belong?
- Lennon/McCartney

Well, that was my impression of Paris when I was there. Paris was absolutely desolate. The achitecture is beautiful. The city has lovely little nooks and crannies. The women are sexy. It was impressive, but it seemed hollow and lost in nostalgia. I kept hearing musicians playing the song, "Those Were The Days My Friends" wherever I went.

Here are a couple article about the dying European Church.


For years the countries of the European Union (EU) have been working on a new constitution to replace various agreements going back to the former European Economic Community (common market), established by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Before the new text was finalized and submitted to the 25 member states for ratification on Oct. 28, 2004, some countries sought a modest amendment to the preamble of the 265-page document.

In addition to language acknowledging the “cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe,” representatives of Italy, Portugal, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Greece wanted recognition of the Christian roots of Europe.

They were blocked by former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing, on grounds that such a reference would “exclude” and “offend.”

France and Belgium were strongest in opposition, supported by Germany, Denmark, Britain, Sweden, Finland, Slovenia and Cyprus. Spain, originally in support, switched to opposition after the election of Socialist prime minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

One critic of the result was Poland’s president, Aleksander Kwasniewski. “I am an atheist and everybody knows it,” he said, “but there are no excuses for making references to ancient Greece and Rome, and the Enlightenment, without making references to the Christian values which are so important to the development of Europe.”

Allied with Kwasniewski was Italy’s minister for EU relations, Rocco Buttiglione. He said, “I wanted to add the Christian roots in the constitution in order to make it clear that this Europe is the Europe that has arisen out of Solidarnosc (Solidarity).” Solidarity was the popular movement in Poland, encouraged by Pope John Paul II, that contributed to the collapse of Communism and inspired other pro-freedom efforts in Eastern Europe.


For decades, the Church in France has been living on borrowed time, relying on a body of priests whose average age has steadily increased. That time has suddenly run out. Recent research suggests that French priests have become so old that half of them will die in the next eight years.

At Puy L’Eveque, Michel Cambon is Fr Bouzou’s nearest fellow priest. He is the only one who seems really angry about the crisis. As we walk among the dilapidated tombs in the churchyard with their fallen crosses and mournful statuary, the church bells clang balefully. Fr Cambon - who has more than 30 churches to look after - says his elderly congregation is dying out so rapidly that in 10 years there may be no church in Puy L’Eveque at all.

“People kept saying it would be all right,” says Fr Cambon, “but they’re about to be proved wrong. My fear is that the Roman Catholic Church will disappear altogether in France. That’s the path we’re on.”

Hat tip: LGF