A Note on Saving Christendom in Europe

Until today I had never read a single word penned by Bret Stephens, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Wall Street Journal who caught some eyes with his recent opinion piece, “In Defense of Christendom.” It’s a mixed bag, reminiscent of George Weigel’s The Cube and the Cathedral and any number of other dystopian takes on Europe’s future. Arguably, Stephens isn’t all that interested in preserving European Christendom so much as he—like many others—is worried about the tidal wave of Muslim immigrants that has hit the Continent in recent months. Better the Cross than the Koran, I suppose. Some have taken umbrage with Stephens’s piece, including Artur Rosman, a pedestrian Patheos blogger emblematic of that site’s intellectual vapidity. Rosman’s main beef with Stephens concerns the latter’s brief reliance on Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Without Roots to advance the thesis that Europe has lost its sense of self. According to Rosman, Stephens “proof-texted” from the former pontiff’s words because he failed to take into account Benedict’s positive appraisal of multiculturalism. So what? As we’ve come to see over the last two years, popes aren’t always right, especially when speaking outside of a magisterial context.

The immigration crisis in Europe is, to put it mildly, messy. Rosman believes that basic Christian hospitality ought to guide the European Union’s (EU) hand, though he fails to clarify why. States have a duty first and foremost to their own citizens, which cannot be separated from their duty to the true religion. Although the world is now bereft of any authentically Catholic state, that does not mean the nations of the world have a right to religious indifferentism. Although some of the refugees pouring into Europe are Christian, most are not. As such, it behooves the EU, or any individual state, to balance charity with its first-order obligations. If mass Muslim migration to Europe threatens the rights of the Church and Christ the King—and there is good reason to suspect it does—then a blind “open door policy” would not only be imprudent, but contrary to right order as well.

None of this is to say that Muslims should be automatically excluded from finding safe haven in Europe or any other Western country. As Pope Pius XII taught, immigration is a right and the goods of the earth belong to all peoples. However, states are still entitled to take measures to maintain social order and to defend themselves from existential threats, external as well as internal. Should the ongoing violence in the Middle East come to a close, there is no reason why the EU or any state which has taken in Muslim immigrants shouldn’t request them to return if the common good demands it.

But let’s not forget what is often at the heart of many states’ immigration policies, and it has nothing to do with either charity or justice. It’s greed. Immigrants are a useful source of cheap labor which can keep bloated social programs running and white retirees happy. Capitalist greed, not Christian ethics, drive state-level decisions on who to let in, when, and under what conditions. And in the case of Europe, that greed may very well be the EU’s undoing as it trades off short-term maintenance of its economic ordo for civilizational surrender.

11 comments

  1. Gabriel, I agree with much of what you written here, except perhaps this: “which can keep bloated social programs running and white retirees happy”; I think that this is one of the lies that makes certain people support immigration, but it is not necessarily true. The costs of immigrant communities will cost the tax payers far more money than what they will contribute to the existing system. There is a coming economic as well as social implosion if immigration is not curtailed; both legal as well as illegal.

    Also, all, especially in Germany, of the projections are based upon a continuing and growing economy, but if the market shrinks all that will be left is not only high unemployment, but racial and religious unrest as well that will most likely result in violence on a wide scale. The whole analysis is base upon a growing population with a matching growth in the economies, but economies often shrink as well.

    Finally, the fear of an ageing population is also vastly exaggerated. The reality is that retirement age will be extended with more and more older workers in the work force, and since their working life will be longer their retirement life will be shorter. As an example, I will most likely work almost twenty years longer than my father or grandfather did.

  2. Dare I hope that this is but the prelude to a well-deserved thrashing of the whole notion of Christian democracy, be it its German, Bavarian, French or any continental incarnation? Or is it still too politically incorrect to consider that state-sponsored redistribution of wealth caused – and not just a happy coincidence or correlation – declining birth-rates, soaring out of wedlock births, fewer marriages and more divorces? Not to mention fewer baptisms, weddings, and consecrated plots in which to bury fewer faithfully departed?

    They kill horses, don’t they? Rerum Novarum assumed a Christian state and society. Absent those, why delegate to a sectarian, anti-Christian state reflective of a pagan population all that power? Hello, McFly?

    1. State-sponsored redistribution of wealth causes bastardy, declining birthrates, etc. in Europe? Curious theory. Let’s put things back into the competent hands of a confident, competent aristocratic class. It’s not like they ever came close to suiciding Europe.

        1. Sorry, World War I; or the Great War. Several first cousins sending millions of peasants to their deaths.

      1. Not curious, just logical and evidence driven. Scholarly studies abound that demonstrate how state sponsored programs drive a wedge between a mother and father’s dependency on each other to have and raise children together, specifically by giving the mother incentives and means to have children without any formal attachment to the father as her husband. Add on top of this the many laws in many European countries which obligate a husband to pay for his ex-wife even after he’d been cuckolded and after she re-married, and viola! you have fewer and fewer men wanting to get married. Little upside, lotta downside. And people wonder why there’s a birth dearth – again, hello McFly!!!

  3. “The immigration crisis in Europe is, to put it mildly, messy.”

    Well, it would be, if there was an actual crisis. So far, a few hundred thousand people have arrived. Europe has a total population north of 700 million. Most of what’s been written on this subject is little more than fear and hyperbole. Were the entire population of Syria to arrive en masse in Europe, they’d barely be a statistical blip.

    That’s not to say that there won’t be consequences to taking in refugees for specific communities: the arrivals are hardly evenly-spread across the continent, after all. But from the way some are talking, you’d think Genghis Khan was rallying his troops massing on the steppes, ready to put Vienna to fire and the sword.

    1. Your analysis is absurd, you know that right? One seventh of the number of immigrants could have entered Europe and it would be impacting. The problem is, you pontificate without studying the issues. Sad.

      1. I provided hard data. You responded with ridicule and insult. I don’t think I’m the one lacking for seriousness here.

        1. But in the United States a relatively small community, numbering only about 11% of the population, is using far more than its share of entitlements and is causing other serious social problems as well. I agree with Gabriel, your analysis is indeed absurd. I recently returned from Paris and Rome, the immigrant crisis is in full swing; whole areas of the cities are no longer safe, whilst not too long ago, regardless of time of day, one could freely, without free, walk any place in both cities. I was a seminarian in Paris in the 1970’s, the city no longer resembles France, much less the city I knew so well in the 70’s.

          1. Also, the actual Muslim Arab invasion of the Christian Egypt was minuscule, well look at Egypt today. The ancient Britons let in a few Germanic refugees in the 5th century, within two to three short generations, they had exterminated the Britons except for those few who took refuge in the mountains of Wales and the isolated sea-coasts of Cornwall.

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