Theoretically speaking, addressing the question of the relationship between Unionist and Christian anthropology presents the researcher with two avenues of analysis and three possible answers.
The first way involves the claim of the implicitly Christian character of Union anthropology. Such a position, at least until a decade ago, was quite often present in the debate on the Union. After the adoption of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and especially after the agreement on the text of the Constitution for Europe and the subsequent adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, in which neither Christianity nor God was mentioned, there were loud voices emphasising that "in the Charter's provisions the Christian heritage is strongly marked, albeit non-verbally". The conviction that the Charter reflects the model of Europeanness outlined in the speeches of John Paul II was even presented as legitimate. Such statements therefore suggested the possibility of verifying the thesis that the Union, which explicitly rejects Christianity, is implicitly based on a Christian axiology and anthropology.
If - theoretically speaking - the thesis of the Christian character of EU anthropology were nevertheless to be falsified, a second line of analysis would open up, taking up the question of the relationship between EU anthropology and Christian anthropology, understood in this case, however, as two, different anthropological perspectives. Two answers would still be possible to the question posed in this way: that EU anthropology and Christian anthropology are incompatible or that they are contradictory.
These three hypothetical answers to the question of the relationship between EU and Christian anthropology, which are in fact three different theses on the nature of their relationship, determine the structure of the present text. Before considering them, however, one problematic and one methodological remark must be made. When discussing the cultural or ideological dimension of the European Union, we usually refer to the question of values and not to anthropology. It is therefore appropriate, if only briefly, to highlight the relationship between axiology and anthropology, as well as the significance of the latter for the understanding of politics. Above all, however, it is necessary to define the cultural problem that prompts reflection on EU anthropology in the first place.
1. Argument about values, anthropology, politics
If one had to draw up a list of issues about which we are arguing particularly intensively throughout Europe, then - without a doubt - ethical issues, linked to fundamental human rights, would take a prominent place on it. From disputes over abortion, in vitro fertilisation, euthanasia, funding of stem cell research, 'same sex marriage' or the scope of the right to conscientious objection, to discussions on sex education and the right to express one's 'gender identity', there has been a growing public debate in Europe over recent decades. It tends to be heated and the institutions of the European Union take an active part in it. Particularly after the Lisbon Treaty, which strengthens the axiological dimension of the Union , they have a clear moral policy impact: "postulate", "expect", "pay attention", "support", "demand", as well as finance and sometimes even regulate.
When discussing the specifics of contemporary value disputes, it is not uncommon to argue that their essence stems from a different hierarchy of values. Gilbert Chesterton, already at the beginning of the twentieth century, noting that "the modern world is full of old Christian virtues gone mad", argued that this situation is due to the fact that one value is separated from another, "forcing each to wander in its solitude". There is a pertinent intuition in this, related to the fact that, as Wojciech Chudy noted, "values walk in herds", and thus form a system and only in this system, which has its own hierarchy, are they understandable. The current situation is understood in a similar way by Marek Safjan, who argues that there is nowadays "a consensus as to the catalogue of principles itself and where the conflict is situated, [but] there is no longer a consensus as to the methodology of choosing the preferential principle in specific circumstances". The problem is that such an answer does not bring an explanation as to why such a serious conflict exists (especially if values are shared!) and on what grounds the parties to it are based. Put differently, we still do not know why the "value herd" has been disorganised and the values forced to "wander alone".
Meanwhile, there is much to suggest that the problem we are interested in does not only concern the hierarchy of values. If, for example, we were to undertake an analysis of the dispute over the legalisation of euthanasia, we would quickly discover that neither side disputes the overriding value of human dignity. It can, at most, accuse the other side of doing so. The identification of the value at the top of the hierarchy is not in dispute. What is in dispute is the understanding of that value and its practical implications.
Father Józef Tischner once aptly observed that at the very centre of the world of values stands man. In interpersonal relations, values constitute a prism through which "man formulates his attitudes to life, his deeds, according to which he evaluates the attitudes and deeds of other people", constituting a particular "human score". Through values, therefore, "one can see both the other person and oneself". The problem of values, being inseparable from the anthropological problem, makes, Tischner stressed, that ethics - the theory of values, is "both a theory of the other and a theory of myself". This means that both the way in which values are conceived and prioritised are ultimately linked to a particular understanding of the human being, and therefore also to an understanding of what is his good and how it relates to other goods.
In the light of the above, it seems reasonable to assume that possible differences in the understanding as well as the prioritisation of values will be linked to different anthropological positions. Ultimately, in order to ascertain what rights man has, that is, what is rightfully due to man, we must consider certain answers regarding the nature, or at least the condition, of man to be adequate, and others not to be inadequate. Recognising that the concept of man is a presupposition of "every theory of state, law, justice", it is worth tempting to take an anthropological perspective on European value disputes. The catalogue and understanding of values expressed explicitly in key EU law documents is fundamental from an anthropological perspective. Indeed, the values that institutions serve in determining how it shapes its tasks, its actions, as well as how it evaluates the actions of others (states, social groups, individuals, etc.), necessarily express, sometimes implicitly, a theory of the human being. Its unveiling should help to understand more deeply the meaning and potential consequences of the legal norms shaped today, in the European political process, which can be both "an instrument of ordering the public sphere at a given moment, and a tool for social change". Ultimately, it should also help to understand the sources and nature of the 'first principles' disputes that beset us.
2. EU anthropology as Christian anthropology?
The question of the meaning of European values and the anthropology behind them was posed to the EU by St. John Paul II in the ongoing 2001-2003 constitutional debate. In the summer of 2003, among other things, he devoted a series of Sunday addresses before the Angelus prayer to this question, pointing out that for citizens living in a community based on a constitution, it is crucial to understand the ultimate source from which their rights come; that it is politically important to see that their rights do not come from the government, but from God. In his address to the new French Ambassador to the Vatican, Pierre Morel, in the context of a discussion about the legitimacy of the reference to Christianity in the proposed Constitution, John Paul II made another important point. He asked France, as it were: "How [could] one fail to mention the decisive contribution of the values professed by Christianity and contributing to the strengthening of culture and humanism in Europe [...] and without which its deepest identity cannot be understood?".
The answer came very quickly. The French Foreign Ministry declared that "Europe is not a Christian club" and "all religions have an equal right to be respected" and therefore "one should not be singled out more than all others". Méndez de Vigo, one of the members of the Convention's presidium, commented on the Pope's remarks rather coolly: "I expected - he stated - that the Pope would say something like this. However... I think it is important to refer to values in general". And this is exactly what was done in the Constitutional Treaty, which later (with minor changes) became the Lisbon Treaty: no reference was made to either God or Christianity, but precisely a 'general' reference to values. For someone who observed John Paul II's involvement, it was very moving that, after the drafting of the Constitution, he virtually fell completely silent. This silence spoke, at least for "those with ears to hear", much more than words of criticism.
With regard to the subject I have been asked, therefore, it will come to pass that the Union's anthropology is certainly not Christian. For a Christian anthropology is intrinsically theocentric. As Fr Jerzy Szymik observes, "man's reference to God, a reference mutual and intended by the Creator from beginning to end (from creation to salvation) is the basic axis of communal reality. For man is essentially, as it were, 'theandric': he is an entity who, in union with God, realises his essence and achieves his purpose. And thereby arrives at the truth about himself". The exclusion of God in the course of defining the sources of value, the meaning of human community, necessarily makes a given anthropology different from the Christian one.
This can have - as Pius XII emphasised in his, rather challenging to modern sensibilities, commentary on the draft Universal Declaration of Human Rights - dangerous consequences. In a letter to President Truman, the Pope stated: "It is proposed to provide the basis for a lasting peace among nations. It was indeed futile to promise long life to any building erected on shifting sands or a cracked and crumbling foundation. We know that the foundations of such peace can only be secure if they are based on a solid faith in the one true God, the Creator of all men. It is He who, of necessity, has determined man's purpose in life; it is from Him, with consequent necessity, that man derives personal, irrevocable rights to pursue this purpose and to attain it unhindered... When the State, to the exclusion of God, becomes the source of the rights of the human person, man is immediately reduced to the status of a slave, a mere civic commodity to be used for the selfish purposes of the group that happens to have the power".
3. A pagan but limited anthropology
A careful reading of Pius XII's remarks reveals that the fact that anthropology is not Christian does not necessarily mean that it is contrary to Christian anthropology. Pius XII notes that this would happen in a situation in which "...the State, to the exclusion of God, becomes the source of the rights of the human person". Is it possible, then, to imagine a situation in which an anthropology that does not refer to God is not an effect of the polis, as well as being an anthropology incompatible with the Christian faith?
Historically speaking, undoubtedly yes. Suffice it to recall in this context the ancient reflection on the nous and the law of nature, which was present in Europe long before Christianity and therefore also before monotheism. Greek pagan philosophers saw human beings as moral and rational natures, capable of discovering objective moral norms. Specifically human in their view was precisely the ability to discover universal norms that did not originate in man; norms that derive from the nature of being. The legitimation of what was human therefore, in their view, required reference to 'the Higher': to nature. This entailed a limitation. For it meant that 'the human is not a product of man and his life with others in the polis'. On the contrary, this life in the polis had to take into account the requirements of orthos logos (recta ratio). Expressed in theological language, the reference to 'the Supreme' forced the recognition that man was a creature and not a creator, even if the true Creator was not yet known; that he was an intrinsically limited being and not an omnipotent one. Alain Besancon very aptly called this Greek approach to reality 'natural orthodoxy'.
Let us emphasise: even if the ancient giants of the intellect did not know the true God, nor did they adhere to the polytheism of their time, when discovering the existence of the moral message of human nature, in practice they acted and thought as if God existed.
It seems to me that securing this 'natural orthodoxy' was Jacques Maritain's aim in the course of drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. In the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789, man, notes Ernst Wolfgang Boeckenforde, 'is a secular man, emancipated from religious bonds'. He is therefore an entity that 'becomes an end unto himself', taking the place of God. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights made a significant change to this anthropological paradigm. Article 1 of the Declaration, which was adopted after the Second World War, outlines the concept of man, whose specific characteristics are no longer only freedom, equality and fraternity, but above all inherent dignity, reason and conscience. This is an important change - law henceforth is no longer an expression of the Enlightenment and somewhat vague 'popular will', as the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen claimed. Instead, it becomes an instrument for the protection of objective human goods, recognised by reason and conscience, among which human rights protect the most fundamental goods. In doing so, the idea of the inherent dignity of the human being prejudges the fundamental and impassable difference between someone and something, showing that human animality is from the beginning the medium of the realisation of the person. At the same time, it ensures that the normative system is open to complementation and in constant contact with the concrete good of the individual human being. For it is precisely the objective nature of the protected goods, independent of culture or social mores, that makes human rights universal, regardless of political or cultural regime. Needless to say, man is not the creator of values here: he discovers them through his conscience.
Following on from earlier considerations, it will therefore be noted that although the anthropology of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is clearly agnostic - it does not refer to the existence or non-existence of God - it is a friendly agnosticism: the order of human rights is an order veluti si Deus daretur; as if God existed. The conception of conscience and reason adopted in the Declaration implicitly presupposes the existence of a higher authority: nature or God, whose/their existence - according to the best ancient and Christian traditions - makes it possible to 'legitimate what is human'.
Perhaps - so, at any rate, argued Jacques Maritain - in the international and inter-civilisational project that was the United Nations, the Universal Declaration's doctrine of objective values, expressing the conviction that some reactions are indeed appropriate and others indeed inappropriate to what we ourselves are, was all that could be achieved. Ultimately, guaranteeing as a reference point for legislated law a 'natural orthodoxy', to invoke the term of A. Besançon, is indeed no small thing. Nevertheless, it is also not surprising that from a Christian perspective, as Pius XII's letter pointed out, this could be seen as a regression. Notwithstanding these controversies, human rights, expressing objective human goods, cognisable through an adequate view of the human person, could become a fundamental safeguard against the omnipotence of power and the basis of a 'limited' politics.
4. Limited anthropology versus unlimited anthropology
The anthropology I call restricted anthropology, which sees the source of humanism in man's relationship to "the Supreme": in ancient times to nature, in Christian times to God, and which acknowledges the irremovable human imperfection that is a consequence of original sin, was particularly significantly undermined in the Enlightenment. It developed a radically opposed view of human nature, generally founded on materialist premises, assuming the absence of an external (extraterrestrial) authority to which man would have to account for his actions and the absence of internal, in-built constraints on human nature that would act as a barrier to arbitrary human decisions (unlimited anthropology). According to this perspective, human being is (or potentially is) morally and epistemically perfect. He creates the world 'as if there were no God', abolishing 'that which is Higher' and locating himself in the place of the supreme being who determines the criteria of good and evil. Thus, while in the limited current, reason is conceived as a disposition containing a moral sense that allows recourse to the Absolute or to a universal norm independent of man and related to man's nature, in the unlimited current, ethical rules are ultimately instrumental (e.g. in utilitarianism, utility is decisive, in Marxism, class interest).
The writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau, in whose works - as Robert Spaemann notes - a modern, non-teleological vision of nature is expressed for the first time, are one of the flagship expositions of such an unlimited anthropology. According to this view, man in the 'state of nature', this secularised version of paradise, lives 'like an animal', being deprived of moral reason. Then, through social processes, he creates (and modifies) values and his own personal identity. This self-creation, we should add, is by definition never-ending, since, as Condorcet taught, 'man's moral value, which is the necessary result of his organisation, can perfect itself indefinitely'. In place of 'homo sapiens', the Enlightenment thus presents, so to speak, the concept of 'homo deus': a vision of man as self-creator. This modern, unrestricted anthropology, expressed seedily in the Universal Declaration of Human and Civil Rights of 1789, in various ways in the 19th century, especially within Marxism and utilitarianism, and at the end of the 20th century within postmodernism, constructivism and transhumanism, ultimately has at its core the same Enlightenment conviction. Namely, it starts from the assumption that man is the absolute centre of reality and therefore locates him - falsely - in the place of God.
In this perspective, Eric Voegelin's remark, claiming that "the thinkers of the 18th century distorted the idea of man beyond recognition. D'Alambert [...] stripped man of his bios theoreticos and reduced his essence to the utilitarian level of homo faber. Voltaire ruthlessly attacked the life of the soul [...] Diderot spoke of 'useless contemplatives'. If, as J.S. Mill put it, moral dispositions are not part of our nature, they do not belong to the realm of reason, if by morality we want to understand something more than consequentialism (and thus the reduction of morality to an experiential cause-and-effect rule judged according to the logic of economic benefit). With the rejection of conscience as a tool that allows rationality, through the memory of its "irrational presuppositions", does not degenerate into irrationality, the understanding of human life in a deeper than material-sensual dimension is lost. Consequently, it becomes impossible "to understand man himself and his place in the universe".
It must be stressed, therefore, that in an unlimited logic, devoid of the horizon of God, reason is the accidental product of unintelligence. The Enlightenment has obscured the fundamental truth of man as a being created by a rational Being and, on that very account, rational. If, however, in the beginning there was only the Great Thunder instead of the Word (Jn 1:1), Nietzsche is right to proclaim that there is no truth and that all of us, "modern people, are heirs to the vivisection of conscience and the self-indulgence of animals that has been going on for millennia (...)". Nietzsche draws another important consequence from this fact: there is no science either, only the cleverness of clever animals who impose their will on others by means of words.
The replacement of limited anthropology with unlimited anthropology is fundamental to the understanding of politics. By undermining the idea of truth and objective moral values, it consequently also undermines the idea of the common good. For relativism in practice means that the force of law is replaced by the law of force. If there is no truth and no absolute values, social relations, including within democratic institutions, begin to be seen as relations based on power; on the imposition of the will of some on others, with no recourse to objective criteria for resolving disputes. Since the unlimited vision rejects the existence of an ontology of the human being, accepting the thesis of the mutability or 'fluidity' of human nature (if the term 'nature' can be legitimately used here at all), it creates no objective limits to political action. This makes possible the idea of radical emancipation, which legitimises the unfettered transformation of social realities and, with them, of the entire world of values.
5. An unbounded anthropology of the European Union?
There are many indications that it is precisely an unrestricted anthropology that we are dealing with today in the European Union. This is evidenced, firstly, by the way in which values are enshrined in the Treaty on European Union; secondly, by the way in which they are conceived; thirdly, by the construction of new, previously unknown, criteria for defining the human being.
The 'general reference to values' mentioned by de Vigo is expressed in the TEU by the rejection of a metaphysics of values. The preamble of the Treaty reads: "Inspired by the cultural, religious and humanist heritage of Europe, from which arise universal values which constitute inviolable and inalienable human rights, as well as freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law". From the point of view of meta-taxiological resolution, 'in the recital in question we are dealing with a clear recognition of cultural relativism. According to the accepted formula, values derive from the cultural, religious and humanist heritage of Europe. Since values themselves, their universality is also a feature recognised because of the development of culture'.
In doing so, Marek Piechowiak points out that 'in such a perspective, it is consistent to omit dignity, which is conceived as an inherent, in its essence independent of culture, source of rights'. Indeed, the preamble of the TEU does not mention dignity among the fundamental values. It only does so in Article 2 TEU, but in the context of values recognised 'by the Member States' and not an inherent source of rights. As it seems reasonable, therefore, to consider that the position adopted in the Treaty is no longer based on the belief that human beings are capable of recognising the objective, and therefore universal, requirements of human dignity (the so-called metaphysics of values). Instead, the catalogue of values is in the TEU based on the prevailing opinion among the Member States (the so-called sociology of values). Here, the legitimation of what is human does not involve a reference to 'the Higher'. On the contrary, the human being ultimately becomes a product of the polis.
Although this meta-axiological problem only appears expressis verbis in the Lisbon Treaty, the axiological solutions adopted in the Charter of Fundamental Rights already foreshadowed such a logic. It was most explicitly revealed in the way Article 9 of the CFR was formulated. It states: "The right to marry and the right to found a family shall be guaranteed in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of these rights". Here, the Charter makes the protected good directly dependent on the decision of the national legislator. From the perspective of human rights philosophy, this article poses quite a conundrum. To put it bluntly: it is completely incomprehensible on human rights grounds not to define the protected good, but to make its content dependent on the decision of the legislator. If it is inherent, it cannot depend on the legislator. If it depends on the legislator, it loses its inherent character. In an attempt to transcend this impasse, the lack of a legal definition of marriage in Article 9 has been compensated for by the definition set out in the Explanations to the Charter, which are - according to their authors - the key to its interpretation. Let us quote them in full:
"This article is based on Article 12 of the ECHR, which reads: "Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right." The wording of the article has been updated to cover cases where national legislation recognises other options for family formation than marriage. The article does not provide for or prohibit the granting of the status of marriage to same-sex unions. This right is therefore similar to that provided by the ECHR, but its scope may be extended if national legislation so provides".
The notions of 'updating' as well as the 'similarity' of this article to Article 12 ECHR are somewhat puzzling. If we look from the side of anthropological analysis at what has been updated, we see that we are confronted with a new philosophy of man and the institution of marriage and family.
As stated in the Explanatory Memorandum, Article 9 "does not provide for or prohibit the granting of the status of marriage to same-sex unions". To put it differently, it allows for a homosexual interpretation of marriage, making in fact - obvious not only to lawyers - a redefinition of marriage, hitherto necessarily linked to the logic of gender complementarity. As Andrzej Zoll notes, 'the constitutive function of marriage and the family, although obviously not exclusive, is procreation and the rearing of a new generation. In the upbringing process, each sex plays an important and irreplaceable role. Every child has the right to the closest contact in the family with his mother and father, with a woman and a man". This right is not guaranteed by Article 9 of the Charter. Indeed, marriage, which primary law recognises as a value protected by the EU and therefore an element of the common good, is understood differently both from the international legal view of marriage and from the approach characteristic of most European constitutions.
It is worth noting, however, that it is clear from the Explanations that it was not so much a change in the conception of marriage, but a change in the conception of the family that gave rise to the new definition of the right protected by Article 9 of the CFR. It was intended to "cover cases in which national legislation recognises other possibilities for creating a family than marriage". In essence, therefore, the Charter's conception of the family follows what sociologist Jeffrey Weeks calls the 'family of choice'. It is noteworthy that the family is defined here "no longer by blood ties, marriage ties or adoption ties, but by the diverse relationships and cohabitation of consenting, autonomous, adult individuals and their offspring".
The above approach, which can be traced back to the logic of compromise, or better, the 'lowest common denominator', significantly changes the understanding of the human being. If it is similar to the logic of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is similar to Averroes' comments on Aristotle's thought on the soul to those of St Thomas Aquinas. In other words, although the anthropology of the CFR is declaratively and conceptually similar to the existing anthropology expressed in the PDHR, it ultimately turns out to be contradictory to it on a key point: the way of conceiving man. It sees man not so much as a moral and social entity, but as a consequent individual, determining (through the political process) the content of the protected good. Marriage between a man and a woman, which is the basis of the family, ceases here to be the natural (in the moral and essential sense) and fundamental cell of society. On the contrary, it becomes "one of the life options", but no longer a form of life resulting from human nature. To put it another way, it becomes a freedom and not a right, which may explain - let us add as an aside - the inclusion of the right to marry and found a family under the heading 'Freedom'.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights still 'modernises' the concept of man in several important places (such as the protection of human life or the concept of integrity). Nevertheless, I would like to draw particular attention to the complete anthropological novelty introduced in the way the prohibition of discrimination is framed.
Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights states: "Any discrimination based, in particular, on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited" . The differentia specifica of this regulation against the background of international and constitutional non-discrimination regulations is that "the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is the first charter of international human rights to include the concept of 'sexual orientation'". This, seemingly minor, addition from an anthropological perspective is indeed a substantial modification.
It is worth noting that, in the logic of bounded anthropology, it is not entirely clear what sexual orientation would actually be. If the concept means a natural sexual attraction to a person of the opposite sex (man to woman and woman to man), then this new protected characteristic would be no different from the prohibition of sex discrimination. Its meaning is only revealed if we take as our starting point a different anthropology, according to which the sexual attraction of a woman to a man and of a man to a woman has nothing natural about it, not only in a biological sense, but also in an essential sense. By invoking the concept of sexual orientation as a variable independent of the gender category, a new division of the human species is made. Here, being male and female loses its connection with human sexuality. The latter is defined according to other criteria, which make it possible to distinguish between hetero-, homo-, bi-, trans-, omni-, pan-, etc.-sexual persons. Ultimately, this new division of the human species reveals an internal contradiction between the category "gender" and the category "sexual orientation". It also seems to shed light on the reasons for treating marriage in the Charter as simply one of human freedom. According to the spirit of unrestricted anthropology, all relationships are occasional, dependent on the discretion and desire of the individual. In this perspective, the position that also marriage, its permanence, form and content should depend only on the decision of the nupturients becomes understandable .
Even a cursory analysis of the axiological credo of the EU makes it possible to see that the presentation of the values or goods protected by the EU, not only verbally but also materially, has little in common not only with Christian anthropology, but in general with the - specific to true humanism - limited anthropology, related to the reference to 'the Higher'. It is sometimes difficult to perceive this change because, at the level of the concepts used, including the definitions of values, we have the impression of continuity in the Christian narrative. We speak of dignity, freedom, equality, justice and love. However, the meaning given to these words is sometimes not only distant from that given to them by Christianity, but even contradictory to it. The EU's specific approach to values, which breaks with the metaphysics of values, means that, in the final analysis, the content of the good protected by the Union derives from an act of will of the legislator (EU or national). This means that, in fact, 'the State, to the exclusion of God, becomes the source of the rights of the human person'.
At the same time, Pius XII's warning about the danger of reducing the human being "to the status of a slave, a mere civic commodity to be used for the selfish ends of a group which happens to have the power" is beginning to ring alarmingly in the ears of parents who lose control over the upbringing of their children in the most personal and intimate sphere of human life; doctors or pharmacists who are restricted in their right to exercise their freedom of conscience; representatives of the Churches who are taken to court on charges of discrimination for preaching moral doctrine, etc. Such examples can, unfortunately, be multiplied without too much difficulty.
The anthropology that is emerging in the EU, which is breaking with not only Christian but also ancient convictions about the legitimacy of what is human in relation to "that which is higher", is causing, before our very eyes, "the development of a culture that is in absolute contradiction not only with Christianity, but with the religious and moral traditions of mankind". In this perspective, the powerful disputes over first principles, which nolens volens we are witnessing and participating in, are fully understandable. At the same time, not only the fate of the Union but also of European civilisation seems to depend on their resolution.