How Necessary Is Christianity to European Identity?

26 January 2011

The question if and how Christianity is necessary to Europe has an official answer. During summer 2010, three million calendars of the new year have been distributed, with all the festivities, except the Christian ones, in it. Meanwhile, the European Commission of Justice had decided that crucifixes should not be hung up in schools. And not long before, the European Convention had famously established that Christianity should not be mentioned as one of the roots of European civilization. 

Lecture before the Library of Congress, Washington DC

21 October 2010

1. Filangieri and Franklin, Europe and America 
It is a well known fact that Gaetano Filangieri was an admirer of the American Revolution. In his view as he wrote in his Science of Legislation of 1780 Pennsylvania was "a nation of heroes, the asylum of liberty, and the admiration of the universe." (The Science of Legislation, Engl. transl., printed for Thomas Ostell by Emery and Adams 1806, I, xi, 150). Of the several posthumous editions of this great work, one was dedicated to George Washington and another to Thomas Jefferson. He corresponded with Benjamin Franklin to whom he asked to be invited "to participate in the great Constitution being prepared in the United Provinces of America, the laws of which are to determine not only their fate, but also the destiny of the whole of this new emisphere." (Quoted in A. Pace, Benjamin Franklin and Italy, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia 1958, p.151). 

6 May 2010

Two different stories may be told about the origin and destiny of Western liberalism. One goes like this: at the start of the modern era, the liberal State came into being. Later came the democratic or liberal-democratic State. Finally, the welfare State made its appearance. Each step led to increased opportunities and freedom. The other story goes in quite the opposite direction. It reads: at the beginning, the modern State was liberal. It then turned paternalistic. Finally, it became totalitarian. Each step reduced individual responsibility and freedom. 
There is reason to believe the second story is the true one, and to worry about this. I shall attempt in this paper to explain why. 

17 March 2010

The recent uproar in Germany about paedophile and homosexual priests is an attack on the Pope. It would be a serious mistake to think that it is too monstrously daring to harm him. And it would be an even worse mistake to think that the whole affair will be quickly brought to an end like so many others. This is not the case. 
There is a war on. It is not openly against the Pope in person as that would be impossibile on this ground. Benedict XVI is proof against any such thing, his serene calm, transparence, firmness and doctrine make him unassailable. His gentle smile is enough to scatter a whole host of adversaries. No, the war is between anticlericalism and Christianity. The anticlericals know that a spot of mud on that white robe would mean that the Church was sullied, and if the Curch were sullied so the Christian religion likewise. So they accompany their campaign with such refrains as who will take the children to Church?" or "who would send their children to Catholic schools ?" or "who would have our little ones cared for in a Catholic hospital or clinic?". 

Parlamento Europeo (Working Group on Human Dignity)

1. La questione dell'anima 

Sono passati quasi venti anni da quando l'allora presidente della Commissione europea Jacques Delors dichiarò che l'unificazione dell'Europa non può essere solo una questione economica e lanciò la sfida di "dare un'anima all'Europa". Durante questo periodo quell'idea che fu ripresa dal presidente Prodi e da altri politici di alto profilo ha prodotto una delle industrie culturali europee più fiorenti. I

29 May 2003

Israel, Europe and Islam
Jerusalem, Hebrew University 


1. Beliefs and problems

I would like to begin by listing three things in which I believe absolutely, all three of which are connected to democracy.
The first thing I believe in is a definition. Following a widely accepted view, I consider democracy to be a regime in which government power changes hands without violence and through free elections.