By John-Henry Westen

BRUSSELS, November 23, 2009 ( – After his secret election as the new President of the European Union, many are trying to figure out just where on the political and ideological spectrum Herman Van Rompuy, the little-known prime minister of Belgium, falls. 

Van Rompuy is to step down as prime minister so he can take up his new post on January 1, 2010.

While Van Rompuy is rumored to be a devout Catholic, his recent talk of “global management of the planet” has caused some concern in conservative circles.  Speaking at his first press conference after his election as President of the European Union, Van Rompuy said: “2009 is also the first year of global governance with the establishment of the G20 in the middle of a financial crisis. The climate conference in Copenhagen is another step toward the global management of our planet.”

At the same time, Van Rompuy has a history of support for Christian values and Europe's Christian identity that, for some, soothes concern. In 2004 Van Rompuy spoke out against Turkey's entrance into the EU, saying: “An expansion of the EU to include Turkey cannot be considered as just another expansion as in the past. The universal values which are in force in Europe, and which are also fundamental values of Christianity, will lose vigor with the entry of a large Islamic country such as Turkey,” he said.

Van Rompuy's history as a devout Christian who has even written books on the defense of the right to life, could easily lead to great hopes for the future of the EU.  However, Paul Belien, editor of the pro-life and pro-family Brussels Journal who knows the new EU President personally begs to differ. Belien warns that “Herman is like Saruman, the wise wizard in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, who went over to the other side. He used to care about the things we cared about. But no longer. He has built himself a high tower from where he rules over all of us.”

Belien, who met and conversed with Van Rompuy several times in the 1980s, described the EU leader prior to his going over to “the dark side” this way: “Van Rompuy, a conservative Catholic, born in 1947, was active in the youth section of the Flemish Christian-Democrat Party. He wrote books and articles about the importance of traditional values, the role of religion, the protection of the unborn life, the Christian roots of Europe and the need to preserve them.”

By 1988, however, Van Rompuy was Leader of the governing Christian Democrats.  And in 1990 the Belgian Parliament voted in a very liberal abortion bill.  Belien relates that at the time Belgian King Baudouin resigned rather than sign the bill, but was reinstated later by Parliament.

As Belien describes it: “In April 1990, the King did in fact abdicate over the abortion issue, and the Christian-Democrat Party, led by Herman Van Rompuy, who had always prided himself on being a good Catholic, had one of Europe's most liberal abortion bills signed by the college of ministers, a procedure provided by the Belgian Constitution for situations when there is no King. Then they had the King voted back on the throne the following day.”

Belien's revelations of the King's brief abdication over the abortion vote were published in the Wall Street Journal, and he was fired from the Belgian newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen under pressure from the government, which was attempting to keep the matter secret.

Belien describes many other political shenanigans engaged in by Van Rompuy after he became the Prime Minister of Belgium.  But perhaps the most telling observation left by Belien is that Von Rompuy, “kept publishing intellectual and intelligent books, but instead of defending the concept of the good, he now defended the concept of 'the lesser evil.'”