Pope Francis has launched a blistering attack on the European Union, claiming that it could be headed down the same road as the Nazis. He's absolutely right, but is anyone at the EU paying attention?
What prompted the Pope's condemnation was a 30-page document produced by the European Commission's equality commissioner, Helena Dalli, which said references to Christianity should be ditched in the EU institutions.
For example, the document called for EU staffers to replace the word "Christmas" with "holiday," as "not everyone celebrates the Christian holidays, and not all Christians celebrate them on the same dates."
Similarly, the document also says that staffers should not refer to "Christian names" but rather "first names" or "forenames," as well as not using names "that are typically from one religion."
The crass document caused so much outrage online that the European Commission abandoned its implementation. However, condemnation has not just come via social media or from right-wing politicians. The Pope has now had his say, and his comments are among the most perceptive and disparaging denunciations of the EU that I have ever read.
Pope Francis said that documents like this represent "a fad, watered-down secularism." He also warned that "it is something that throughout history has not worked," and stated that "in history, many dictatorships have tried to do these things. I'm thinking of Napoleon, the Nazi dictatorship, the Communist one."
At this point I nearly fell off my chair. I have never heard a person of such stature warn about where the EU could be headed in such stark terms.
But the Pope went even further, and called into question the EU's obsession with cultural integration. Indeed, he clearly sees the dangers posed by the 'one size fits all' approach to Europe better than most of the Eurocrats in Brussels.
He said, "The European Union... must be careful not to take the path of ideological colonisation. This could end up dividing countries and causing the EU to fail." He also warned that the Eurocrats "must respect... the variety of countries and not want to make them uniform. I don't think it will do that... but be careful, because sometimes they come and throw projects like this one out there."
These are wise words indeed from Pope Francis. Too often we see the EU, which is dominated both by the finance and ideology of the Western member states, attempt to force liberal and secular cultural values on Central Europe.
The response has been that the governments of Poland and Hungary are now constantly at war with the EU. They want to protect their own culture and Christian values, and for that they are being persecuted through the EU's courts.
Indeed, I have predicted that if the EU continues on this road of forced integration, it will lead to a rupture within the bloc from east to west, and along cultural lines.
Now, I have heard Pope Francis criticise the EU on these lines before. I was sitting in the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 2014 when he warned that the EU was "laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual people."
Yet it seems that the EU institutions did not take his warnings seriously, and seven years later they are still making the same mistakes. Perhaps this is the reason why his denunciation of the EU is far more strident this time round.
As a Catholic, I rejoiced at the Pope's statements. I hope that the Catholic Church has finally woken up to the threat that the kind of aggressive woke secularism practised by the EU poses to its future.
If the Pope can lead the fightback against wokeism, then he will not only be a beacon of hope to those who feel that things have already gone too far, but he will also be protecting and preserving the Catholic Church.