By Hilary White

ST. GALLEN, Switzerland, October 8, 2009 ( – Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet empire, the people of Europe have been using their hard-won freedom to indulge in relativism and materialism, said the European bishops in a recent statement. According to the bishops, this materialism has led Europeans to avoid having children which has created a looming demographic crisis

The Council of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe, (CCEE) holding their plenary assembly last week, wrote, “The development of the European Union has gone hand in hand with a growth in consumption, at least for some people.”

“The mere constant acquisition of goods will never fill people's hearts … The rules of the market and competition will never give birth to the ideal. “

In the drive to “exercise individual choice and to seek personal fulfilment,” the bishops said, societies risk falling into violence.

“A society in which each individual, each group, each nation defends only their own vested interests cannot but be the jungle. Without justice, without sharing, without solidarity, social life sinks into violence. We should not be surprised then if mafia and terrorist organizations thrive against this background.”

They warned against the risk of “relativism” and particularly “ethical relativism” in which “each person sets their own norms and claims their own rights.”

Without specifying the rampant use in Europe of artificial contraceptives or the continent's sky-high abortion rates, the bishops warned that this relativism has led to a society in crisis in which “low birth rates and the future of its demography do not lead to optimism.”

“To promote the common good and respect for the environment, men and women are prepared to make sacrifices to be shared by others. The defence of life, from conception to natural death, is not a lost cause.”

At the same time, the bishops deplored the lack of public interest in the “European project” of unifying the independent nations of Europe under one European Union government based in Brussels.

“Twenty years later, we now see that the incredible European project, with a strong ethical basis, has greatly weakened. The very poor turnout in the latest European Parliamentary elections was a tell-tale sign. The hopes placed on building Europe have not so far been fulfilled,” the statement said.

This “European project” has been roundly denounced by many in Europe as a means of created a gigantic pan-European superstate that will supersede national laws, particularly threatening the laws in some countries protecting the unborn and the natural family.

Democracy supporters and pro-life advocates continue to warn that the magnum opus of the “European project,” the Lisbon Treaty, will allow the European Court of Justice to overturn the pro-life and pro-family laws of countries like Malta, Ireland and Poland, based on the European Charter of Fundamental Human Rights.

The CCEE statement, signed by the president of the Irish bishops' conference, Seán Cardinal Brady, concludes that the solution to the problems in Europe is the full participation in the European project. The bishops wrote, “Building Europe is truly an enterprise worth the effort. Everyone can find their own place, everyone is welcome. More than ever the road opens before us. It is not a time to slow down or to sit on the sidelines.”

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