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A new book by Marcello Pera warns of dire consequences should Western civilization turn its back on its Christian roots.
BY EDWARD PENTINROME CORRESPONDENT
XVI called Marcello Pera’s 2008 book Why We Must Call Ourselves
Christians a work “of fundamental importance at this hour in Europe
and the world.”
It presents the case that Europe
must recognize its Christian roots because only then will it be truly united.
At the book launch, Pera argued that the book calls on Europeans to ask
themselves who they are, what they believe in, and what their identity is.
“If I do not ask these questions,”
he said, “I do not know how to defend myself from those who attack me, and I do
not even know what to teach.”
Why We Must Call Ourselves
Christians is a sequel to Pera’s earlier work Without
Roots, written with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and published in
Pera, who is both an Italian senator
and philosophy professor, spoke to Edward Pentin earlier this year about his
new book, his concerns for the United States and Europe, and his views on
President Barack Obama.
How does this book build upon Without
It’s more a systematic work, from a
philosophical and cultural point of view. The problem explained in this book,
as the title says, is that we must call ourselves Christians if we want to
preserve our liberties — fundamental liberties — and to defend them.
If we want to unify Europe, in this
sense, we must recognize Europe’s Christian roots. We must also recognize them
if we want to save our morality and public ethics from all this relativism —
and especially bioethical issues. So if we want to keep our liberal societies,
if, on this continent, we want to have political unification, to have a
political European identity, and — the third if — if we want to save our public
ethics, then we must call ourselves Christian.
So that’s the link between the
previous book and this one. In this one, for example, I have tried to show that
the fathers of liberty were all nourished by the Christian faith.
Since you wrote your first book,
have you become more optimistic and noticed a general return to recognizing
Europe’s Christian roots, as you hoped?
No, and I’m concerned about
Americans. It seems to me America is turning more European, more secular, at
least if you look at the intellectual and political elite. Not the ordinary
people, fortunately, which is the strength of the United States.
The majority because ordinary people
seem to have different views and at least tend to resist secularism. But
looking at the elite — the media, the universities, probably the Obama
administration — it seems that there America is turning European.
So are you more optimistic about
Europe than America?
No, I’m not optimistic about Europe.
I don’t like the secularism that is so widespread in Europe; although I start
to see something new, especially due to this Pope and the previous one — a new
sort of resurgence. But I am not optimistic about Europe, also Eastern Europe
because the continent is becoming very de-Christianised.
I am more optimistic about America,
especially because of its history, but I am concerned about its present and
Do you foresee a radical
secularism taking hold in America over the next few years? Is that your major
I’m expecting more fighting, more
quarrels, more culture wars in our society, not just between different
denominations and religions, but between believers and agnostics and
President Barack Obama has
promised to bring more consensus to politics and make it less partisan.
That is a dream, but in order for
that to be materialized, you need to make choices. And as far as I understand
it, Obama is not making unifying choices.
Edward Pentin writes