by Tess Daniels
In early October, ten well-known European intellectuals signed The Paris Statement: A Europe We Can Believe In[KD1] , in which they declared that a false and pseudo-utopian Europe threatens everyone and that all must defend the real Europe. This real Europe is defined by solidarity, civic loyalty, and patriotic love for the nation-state.
The signers also decry the enforced unity of the European Union: “Our beloved home will not be fulfilled with the European Union. The real Europe is, and always will be, a community of nations.” They point to Christianity as central to Europe’s cultural unity, for Christian roots “nourished” Europe just as its classical roots encouraged excellence. They argue that today a sense of false freedom prevails, with individualism, isolation, and aimlessness permeating European culture.
The statement’s signers also condemned over-regulation, over-management, and the dissipation produced by multiculturalism. The signers proposed an alternative to this “false” Europe: turning back ersatz religion and restoring a “true liberalism.” They urged national unity, solidarity, and the restoration of “moral culture,” while demanding the reformation of education and strengthening of marriage and family. The document ends with a call to action directed to all Europeans, urging them to take responsibility for the future of the continent ,: “Our gentle virtues are of an unmistakably Christian heritage: fairness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, peace-making, charity.”
Reactions to the declaration have been mixed. Some conservatives support the aims of the document, agreeing that Europe’s prospects do not evoke optimism. Michael Brendan Dougherty at National Review agrees that the European social structure needs reexamining, pointing to Europe’s declining birth rates and the lack of integration of immigrant communities. To Dougherty, “Europe has become disenchanted with its faith, Christianity.” He argues that conservative intellectuals typically respond to this fact with either “hysteria or resignation,” whereas Dougherty sees The Paris Statement as a more sober analysis which correctly identifies Europe’s problems as arising from “a false understanding of itself.”
However, others have been more critical of the statement. The Week’s Matthew Walther, in an article entitled “‘Europe’ is Meaningless” harshly criticizes the document. Walther argues that the concept of Europe has been degenerating for centuries, and that the continent “could be destroyed tomorrow and rebuilt by the set designers from Game of Thrones and it would make no difference.”
Walther also maintains that the signers act as if “the fact that these were once Christian countries were unknown or that whining about it would change the reality today.” While Walther agrees with The Paris Agreement concerning the “moral decay” of Europe, citing euthanasia and abortion laws, he does not think documents like this are effective, or that we can “turn back the clock.” Other American Catholic conservative commentators also raise objections. For instance, First Things’ Matthew Schmitz contends that we will need more than “local patriotism and Christian roots” to overcome the dangerous portrait The Paris Agreement paints because “only an authentic Christendom can overcome a counterfeit.”
Although reactions to the document were mixed, one overlying theme was clear: the idea that Europe is facing a crisis. The Paris Statement’s proposal is welcome most of all for drawing attention to that at this critical time.