By Fr. George Welzbacher
October 14, 2007
In just a few months, in July of 2008, note will be taken, by some with approval and by others with disdain, of the fortieth anniversary of the issuing of Humanae Vitae [Of Human Life], with respect to the morality of contraception the definitive judgment of Pope Paul the Sixth that provoked an uproar of dissent. Resolute and courageous in the face of enormous pressure, Pope Paul reaffirmed the teaching of the Catholic Church, consistent throughout the ages, on the sacred character of the sexual power, emphasizing its God-given unitive force in joining husband and wife in a life-long commitment of mutual love with a total giving of oneself to one's spouse. He also condemned as gravely disordered (and thus seriously sinful) the deliberate frustration of the sexual power's inherent dynamic, the transmission of human life. This was a message that the world did not wish to hear, and its repudiation was instantaneous and all but universal, with corresponding vituperation of the messenger. With the media acting in the prosecutor's role, Pope Paul was arraigned before the court of world opinion, charged with promoting a program that, if widely carried out, would lead to death by starvation for multiple millions, granted the challengeable premise that earth is unable to produce food in such quantities as can sustain a population at a level much higher than that prevailing in 1968. And the Pope was maligned as a heartless partisan of institutional self- interest for his defense of a teaching that the world's opinion-makers had judged to be altogether out of date and inadmissibly obstructive of man's self- fulfillment. The very idea that the sexual power should be governed by a higher law was rejected by the elite as an insult to man's freedom. The unspoken premise here was that the sheer size of the chorus hailing man's autonomous fulfillment as the only true and absolute good somehow gave that chorus an authority outweighing the authority of the magisterium to which Christ had pledged a guidance by the Holy Spirit in all things pertaining to salvation. To the argument "Can the whole world be wrong?" the Church's answer is: "Yes! And more often than Not!" 1968 was one of those times.
Joining the chorus of the those rejecting Humanae Vitae were far too many Catholic priests and nuns and even here and there a bishop, rallying behind, in the USA, such theological mediocrities as Father Charles Curran or that vicious promoter of abortion "rights", Father Robert Drinan, S.J., the Pied Piper of Congress, who led many legislators who like to think of themselves as Catholic into voting for immoral laws. These enemies from within, having persuaded legions of the laity to defy the solemn teaching of Christ's Vicar on earth, became in effect the heralds of a New Reformation, one in which ungovemed appetite has jettisoned by now the entire supernatural order and much of the natural order, too, a Reformation so radical that it would have appalled Martin Luther.
Judged by the multitude of their adherents the enemies of Humanae Vitae have prevailed. Contraception in the West has almost become the norm. But as always happens in the end, though sometimes it takes a while to reach its term, when we revolt against the order established by God, we evoke catastrophe. And so today, forty years after Humanae Vitae, Western Europe-and Russia and Japan-are dying. Demographically America is holding its own, thanks largely to immigration from Hispanic lands, immigration fairly easily accommodated within American society. But having sought to solve the problem of a dwindling work force by opening the gates to a flood tide of immigrants from countries espoused to a culture not disposed to acceptance of Christian values, the nations of Western Europe are faced now with a problem that seems to have no solution other than to surrender to Islamification, or, though the hour for this is very late, to repudiate the contraceptive mindset, a course of action by no means utterly out of the question but highly unlikely, given Western Europe's nearly total immersion in short-sighted self-indulgence.
May I share with you a review, here considerably abridged, of an important new book dealing with this topic by the distinguished historian Walter Laqueur. The book's title is The Last Days of Europe. It deals with the prospects for an Islamic Europe. The review, written by David-Pryce-Jones, appeared in the October 8, 2007 issue of The National Review.
* * * * *Gathering Storm,
A Review by David Pryce-Jones
The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent. By Walter Laqueur
"The Last Days of Europe" is a title with a drum-beat to it. Can the implicit doom really be true? A mere hundred years ago, the Continent commanded most of Asia and Africa, and was the universal model of law, learning, and invention. The fathering of Communism and Nazism shattered this preeminence, of course; its ally and rival, the United States took the lead. But isn't the European Union that has been taking shape these last 50 years a complete recovery, an exciting new start? Proclaimed in triumphalist treaties and speeches, the intention in the EU capital of Brussels is to make the United States of Europe into the world power of the coming century. A whole range of politicians and the academics at their heels behave and write as if this intention corresponded to reality.
Walter Laqueur is not among them. Born in Breslau, a city disputed between Germans and Poles, he has lived through the period of Nazism and Communism, and is one of the last representatives of European intellectual life as it once was, but is no longer. Judicious skepticism has long been his hallmark as a historian of contemporary issues. Analyzing Europe today, he finds a cluster of interlinked factors that lead him to conclude that, at best, there will be slow, gradual decline; at worst, a rapid collapse.
Laqueur takes as his starting point the lapidary judgment of Auguste Comte that demography is fate. To maintain population, Europe needs a total fertility rate of 2.1 or above, but at present it is a miserable 1.37 and declining. People can afford to have children more easily than in the past, but are choosing not to do so, presumably out of selfishness or lack of confidence in the future. In Italy and Spain, for instance, about half as many children are now being born as around 1960. Yemen [yes, Yemen! the desert and mountain republic at the heel of the Arabian boot where Osama bin Laden's father was born] is projected by the middle of the century to have a larger population than Russia. If trends continue, by the end of this century the population of Europe will be only a fraction of what it is today.
The effects even now are alarmitig. In major European countries, for the first time in history, there are more people over 60 years old than under twenty. The median ages of the populations of Europe and the United States are now more or less the same, but by 2050, the median age is projected to be 36 in the U.S.-and 53 in Europe. The welfare state is considered a European glory, and a politician who advocates even small diminutions of it has no chance of being elected. By 2050, if not before, who will be paying for the social benefits, in particular the pensions?
Initially, at least, immigration from the Third world, and Muslim countries in particular, seems to have been welcomed as a means of recruiting the missing work-force. Statistics in this field are invariably more indicative than final, but the given figures are astonishing enough and may well be understated on account of illegal immigration. In Germaiiy, for instance, the 6,800 Muslim inhabitants of 1961 have risen to 3.6 million today; in Denmark, the 25,000 of 1982 are 300,000; in France and Holland, the totals have doubled since 1980. All told there are probably somewhere near 20 million Muslim immigrants in western and central Europe, and perhaps almost as many again in Russia.
"Naivete" is one judgmental noun that crops up several times in this book, and "fantasy" is another. It was naive and fanciful on the part of European governments to allow virtually unrestricted immigration of millions with a religion and culture that set them apart from the indigenous population. Cities like Antwerp, Bradford, Lille, Marseilles, and Rotterdam may soon be thoroughly Islamized with Muslim majorities. In contrast, the emigration of Native Europeans, has never been higher. Realizing too late the confusion they were introducing into their societies, governments had no idea how best to proceed. The British instituted multiculturalism, whereby Muslims are encouraged to pursue their religion and culture free from pressure to integrate; the French try to impose the republican equality enjoyed by everyone else; the Germans favor special expenditure to buy off discontent. Sheer bribery might conceivably serve the purpose, but it is unaffordable while levels of unemployment and debt remain high, and the requisite economic growth is uncertain. Each and every approach so far has been a failure....
Meanwhile Islamist mosques, cells, and terror attacks in one European city after another intimidate potential moderates, while also provoking racist or semi-fascist reactions among native Europeans. Binational states might emerge, with every prospect of communal and ethnic and religious violence. To stave off such a catastrophe, Laqueur recommends appeasement, and lots of it, in spite of an evident reluctance to give preference to social peace over justice. We must be nice to Muslims while we are the majority, a Swedish politician has already proposed, so that they are nice to us when they are the majority. The Dutch Catholic bishop of Breda, no less, has just suggested that Christians replace the word "God" with "Allah." [The Islamic Allah is in fundamental respects not the same as the Christians' God]. By means of such steps, one at a time, here and there, the continent is indeed closing with its past....
Laqueur's envoi to the old world that gave the West its values is unanswerable, full of grief, as well as unspoken fear of violence to come. The Europeans once again have made a mess of things, and nobody has any idea how they are to save themselves. The Continent is altering out of all recognition; for the future, its contribution to civilization will lie in the historical record. The most that Laqueur can hope for is a Continent that has turned into a museum, with tourist guides and gondoliers to cater to visitors inquiring into the culture of its once-dominant past. He imagines that the role of Europeans will be to hold forth about Shakespeare and Beethoven. In the light of his analysis, may we be so lucky.
* * * * *To punish our sins God doesn't usually need to intervene. He just lets us pull the roof down on our own heads. Forty years after Humanae Vitae even many secularists are beginning to wonder if maybe Paul the Sixth wasn't right.