The Sceptic Blog

Random thoughts of a random chappy

The Chief Rabbi, the Pope and the Soul of Europe

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1.  According to the Jewish Chronicle, in the Chief Rabbi’s lecture at the Pontifical Gregorian University he said: “When a civilisation loses its faith, it loses its future. When it recovers its faith, it recovers its future. For the sake of our children, and their children not yet born, we – Jews and Christians, side-by-side – must renew our faith and its prophetic voice. We must help Europe rediscover its soul.”

2.  It strikes me that this is about as inappropriate a moment as one could find for it to be suggested that all that Europe needs to rediscover its soul is co-operation between the Catholic church and institutionalised Judaism.

3.  Organised religion in general seems to be doing as much as any other force in today’s world to sow the seeds of dissension and violence.  While the Catholic church has particularly acute present crises of conscience, all the major religions about which I know anything at all seem to be contributing more to the sum total of human misery than to the sum total of human happiness.

4.  The Chief Rabbi is undoubtedly right that Europe – and not just Europe – is in moral crisis, and to describe that as needing to rediscover the soul is entirely apt.  Hundreds of thousands of people of all ages are desperately in need of moral direction and focus; and the lack of these is leaving a horrendous mark on the development of societies throughout the world.

5.  But what these people need is not a new gang to belong to, or a new dogma to excuse intolerance and thuggery; rather they need help to rediscover the inherent appreciation of moral values that are the image of God in which we are all created.  All religions worthy of the name – and many non-religious philosophies and approaches to life – are capable at a personal level of reigniting a human being’s spark of holiness; but organised religion, as distinct from personal religion, is as in need as anyone else of rediscovering its soul; and until it has healed itself it will not be ready to be part of the solution rather than an exacerbation of the problem.


Written by Daniel Greenberg

December 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm

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