But while we can hope that things will improve for the Church in the States, the Church in Europe is in a crisis of its own. I know the last thing on many of our minds right now is Europe's problems we have enough of our own on this side of the Atlantic.
Still, because Europe is the seat of our faith, the problems overseas are ours as well. And as I mentioned, Europe is in BIG trouble. If you doubt it, think about this:
• A vote last Wednesday in the European Union (EU) on “reproductive and sexual rights” encouraged removing all remaining barriers to abortion in the nations of the EU. This includes Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, and those nations that are seeking admission to the EU, like Poland and Malta. While the EU was founded upon the agreement that social issues like abortion would remain under the jurisdiction of individual nations, the EU's support of such a motion puts major pressure on its members to conform with its social agenda, especially those more vulnerable nations that are still trying to join.
Will heavily Catholic countries like Ireland and Poland buckle under the bullying tactics of the EU?
And abortion rights are only the tip of the iceberg. The report that finally won by a narrow margin in Parliament also calls for early sexuality education (“sexuality” education? I wonder what that means…) and widespread access to “emergency contraception” that can be bought over-the-counter. Oh, and in case you were wondering, no mention is made of parental involvement in any of this; presumably, kids would be free to buy condoms and abortion pills themselves.
• For women's groups who want more immediate action taken for abortion, never fear the newly reinstated abortion boat “Women on Waves” will soon be sailing to waters near you. The brainchild of a Dutch organization, Women on Waves sails to those nations where abortion is illegal and, by taking women outside that nation's territorial waters, offers them contraceptives and the abortion pill RU-486. Since both are legal in the Netherlands, they're also legal aboard Dutch ships. Who cares about the laws of the countries where the women actually live? Pretty slick idea. While the Dutch government still hasn't approved late-term abortions aboard the ship, these nautical feminist crusaders are confident that approval is only a matter of time.
• To round off the week in European news, seven women were “ordained” in Austria by an excommunicated Argentine priest of the Charismatic Apostolic Catholic Church of Jesus King. The Austrian council of bishops has already denounced the ordination as a farce, but the priest and his followers, who number 13,000, remain unconcerned. The “archbishop” Braschi (apparently, you get to be an archbishop if you start your own sect) dismisses the condemnation of the Vatican, saying that “the Catholic Church is in urgent need of reforms … especially the priesthood of women and the integration of families in religious life, capable of giving new impetus to and addressing the crisis of vocations.”
So, why should American Catholics care about the battles being fought in Europe? After all, most of us already know that Europe has become the amusement park of the nutty left.
Nevertheless, as I've already indicated, Europe is where the seat of our faith is. And like it or not, the Church in Europe represents all of us in a way that no other place can. The events in Europe will have a profound affect on the Church there, a problem that can only grow worse over time.
As Americans, we're the unfortunate witnesses of how problems in the Church, left unaddressed, can quickly blaze out of control. Let's not make the same mistake in ignoring the situation of the Catholic Church abroad.
We've all got a lot riding on it.