Former EU Vice President Warns of Moral Decline

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (ANS) -- The former vice-president of the European Parliament, Fred Catherwood, warned Monday, April 29, that unlimited enlargement of the European Union could further undermine Europe's already threatened Christian tradition.

Speaking with ASSIST News Service (ANS) at the Hope.21 evangelical congress, Catherwood said he supports the EU entry of Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland. "But I am very much more doubtful to expand Europe even further," he said referring to nearby Orthodox and Muslim countries.

Catherwood (77) made the announcement a day after he received the Hope Award for his efforts to introduce Biblical values in Europe. He suggested that Europe may see a further moral decline "when you go further east", as the "only moral we had was a Christian moral order."


He said that even the European Union in its present form seems
already lawless in various area's. "I have been around in 30 of our cities and there is total chaos. Children are on the streets and there is violence. It is a society that has no basic moral values."

The role of Christians in society and politics is an important topic at the Hope.21 meeting, which is attended by over 1000 evangelical leaders from 35 countries. Speakers have expressed alarm about what they call Europe's moral decline and death culture.


The Foreign Secretary of the Netherlands based ChristianUnion party, Gerard Geijtenbeek, told ANS his fraction will launch a network of Christian politicians to combat the spread of euthanasia, abortion and homo-marriages across Europe.

However Catherwood, who served under several British Prime Ministers as adviser and European MP, cautioned that the continent's moral change should come first come from churches, not from politicians.

"I think it is difficult to say that a political party is Christian, many things with which I was dealing as a politician were very secular such as trade. In my view the state is their to say what is legal and illegal, while the church is there to tell what is right or wrong."


Although several congregations have been closing down across Europe, the former EU-politician believes that church growth is possible when the churches "care for their neighbors." He said that politicians will only react when they see that churches are involved in social projects.

"I have send the toughest politicians to church projects, and they came back impressed," he said. Catherwood does not believe that the sex-scandals within the Catholic Church will make it difficult to realize the goals of Hope.21: "The Gospel and a Church for every European."


Catherwood: "I think there is a difference between the Protestant and Catholic churches because of the celibacy of the priests, with which we disapprove off." He added that the Protestant history is different as well. "I recently told people in Kazakstan that we have not been involved in the crusades, that's why we had the reformation."

He is confident that living churches "without empty liberal theology" can win back their place in Europe as they did during the first millennium. Re-discovering that Christian heritage is seen by organizers as an important future task for evangelicals attending Hope.21, which will end May 1.