The Demise of the European Family
By Patricius Anthony

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The Demise of the European Family

By Patricius Anthony

In his incisive book Europe and the Faith, Hilaire Belloc wrote the following:

We have reached at last, as the final result of that catastrophe three hundred years ago, a state of society which cannot endure, and a dissolution of standards, a melting of the spiritual framework, such that the body politic fails. Men everywhere feel that an attempt to continue down this endless and ever-darkening road is like the piling up of debt. We go further and further from a settlement. Our various forms of knowledge diverge more and more. Authority, the very principle of life, loses its meaning, and this awful edifice of civilization which we have inherited, and which is still our trust, trembles and threatens to crash down. It is clearly insecure. It may fall in any moment. We who still live may see that the ruin when it comes is not only a sudden, it is also a final, thing. In such a crux there remains the historical truth; that this our European structure, built upon the noble foundation of classical antiquity, was formed through, exists by, is consonant to, and will stand only in the mold of, the Catholic Church. Europe will return to the Faith, or she will perish. The Faith is Europe. And Europe is the Faith.

Compared to the cultural depravity that pervades contemporary times, the early 20th century when Belloc penned these prophetic words looks like a veritable Garden of Eden! In May 2008, the European Parliament received a study from the Institute for Family Policy entitled, The Evolution of the Family in Europe 2008. After reading its contents, one would think that a more apt title might be The Devolution of the European Family.

An indication of just how barbaric Europe has become can be seen in what is now the leading cause of death among its population. And, it is not natural causes, but a very unnatural one: abortion. Some 1,200,000 babies per year are not brought to term, a nice way of saying murdered. Is it any wonder that Europeans have been unable to sustain their populations?

Vindicated by this study, although belatedly, is Pope Clement VII and his venerable successors who upheld their courageous predecessor's decision not to grant one of the most wicked figures in Western history, Henry VIII, an "annulment" of his legitimate marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Only Almighty God knows how many individual souls were saved, families kept intact, and societies preserved through the centuries by His Vicars upholding Christ's teaching on the Sacrament of Marriage. As it has done to every aspect of Tradition, however, the New Order Church has joined the modern world in allowing divorce, with that Church's scandalous, widespread grants of "annulments" for almost any conceivable reason.

As most of the pre-Vatican II popes warned, readily-accessible divorce has made a shambles out of the institution of marriage, a fact of which Europe is being made painfully aware. For those who choose to marry, more than half do not stay together. The divorce rate has skyrocketed: one million in 2006, 365,000 more than 1980. From 1996 to 2006, there were over 10,100,000 marital breakdowns, which affected some 15,000,000 children. No wonder dysfunctional families are now the norm. Since fornication is no longer frowned upon, but is generally accepted, there has been a steep drop in those who choose to wed. In 2006, there were 732,752 fewer marriages than there were in 1980, a decline of about 23 per cent. Moreover, the dissolution of marriage has resulted in the shrinkage of the size of European households to an average of 2.4 members per home, with one in four homes occupied by a single person.

The population growth in Europe that did take place between 2000 and 2007 is of little solace. Of the 14,200,000 people added, 12,000,000 (84 per cent) were immigrants. The immigration population now stands at 27,000,000, about 5.5 per cent of the total population. These figures, of course, do not take into account the disastrous consequences from illegal immigration, which policy makers have done little to thwart and, in many cases, have actually encouraged. While the Institute for Family Policy reported its findings in the soberest terms and used phrases such as "elderly continent" and "demographic winter," its policy recommendations will do little to rectify the deteriorating situation. Neither will the revival of family life come about under the current crop of politicians, whose actions have, in large part, contributed to the problem.

Although radical feminism, immigration, alternative life styles, materialism, and contraception have all been cited by observers for the dissolution of the family, they are, in actuality, symptoms of a more fundamental crisis that has affected Europe for quite some time and that Belloc so eloquently spoke about on a number of occasions: the loss of the true Faith. The Protestant revolt and the successive falling away of formally Catholic lands from the Church is the ultimate cause not only for the disintegration of families, but the de-civilization of societies both in Europe and North America.

This condition is particularly tragic because it was in European Christendom that the Faith found its fullest flowering. The holy result of Western man's embracing Catholicism saw not only the development of diverse and vibrant cultures with their particular ways, habits, and traditions, but also societies that consisted of solid family structures, whose fertility led to growing populations. Most importantly, European families stressed religious vocations as the most worthy occupation that one could pursue. No doubt that encouragement inspired countless souls to renounce the pleasures of this world for a life of sacrifice for the Cross of Christ.

Was Christendom perfect? Of course not. However, Europeans, for the most part, understood the purpose of life and realized that Providence had given them the duty not only to nurture the Faith among their own but also to carry, transmit, and evangelize it as far as possible and to convert as many souls as possible. The Crusades, the Christianization of the New World, and the Inquisition were just some of the examples of European "exceptionalism" that ultimately stemmed from commitment and love for God and His Holy Church.

The institution that inspired Europe's spiritual greatness has, since the Second Vatican Council, joined with the former lands of Christendom in the suicidal rejection of Almighty God. Instead of true worship of its Creator, as was once practiced and heard in the thousands of churches, cathedrals, monasteries, and religious houses that dotted Europe's landscape, the New Order Church offers a spurious, invalid, and sacrilegious worship service, the antithesis of what God had specifically commanded for His honor and for the salvation of souls.

Some conservative Newchurchers naively believe that Benedict-Ratzinger will lead a restoration of Catholic culture. A number of these neocons who trumpet Newpope's supposed "traditional credentials" often criticize policy-makers who propose reforms to social problems that the very same politicians created in the first place. Where is the scrutiny and hostility toward Benedict-Ratzinger, who was one of the architects of the New Order religion that supplanted the traditional Faith? And where is the indignation by these neocons over Newpope's deliberate cover-up of his perverted subordinates who have raped and assaulted children? To many neocons, the bailout of the world's financial systems has been a far greater "sin" and travesty than the abominations that have occurred under the reigns of Benedict-Ratzinger and his Conciliar predecessors.

The revitalization of European families will not come about through the ballot box or public policies. Instead, there must be a spiritual re-conversion of both the land and the Faith that were once so intimately intertwined. Until this fact is realized, European families will continue to deteriorate, and the baneful social consequences from their demise will only worsen.