The pains of holy Rome - KEMAL ÖZTÜRK

The pains of holy Rome

The heads of state and government from 27 countries arrived to the Vatican, one by one, under extraordinary security measures that included anti-aircraft weapons.

They were greeted at the door of the Apostolic Palace, which represents the unity of Christians under a single roof, by cardinals in purple robes. The leaders took their places in the spectacular hall adorned with the magnificent depictions of Prophet Isa – Jesus – and his disciples.

When Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of the Catholic world and the spiritual father of holy Rome, entered the hall in his snow-white garment, all leaders stood up in respect. The pope blessed them with his hand and called them to take their seats. He also took a seat – in his magnificent and impressive – throne-like – chair, higher than the rest.

European Union and the holy Rome dream

It was exactly 60 years ago when a gathering had taken place in Rome again and the first foundation of the United Europe dream had been laid. Then, Pope Pius XII had blessed this union with Latin prayers and praises. Later, the leaders of six countries had gathered in the Hall of Orazi and Curiazi in Palazzo dei Conservatori, decorated in paintings displaying the grandeur of all of Rome and Christianity, and had reached an agreement for the future of holy Rome.

Even though the “European United States” dream belongs to former U.N. Secretary-General Jean Monnet, all of the dreams to revive holy Rome and establish a union against the Muslim world, belongs to the popes sitting in the Vatican. Hence, the most critical decisions, meetings and agreements would be made in the presence of the pope. Just like it happened last week.

Europe, which went through sectarian wars and inquisition for centuries, which put the world through two world wars, had made a promise 60 years ago, in another cold month of March, in the presence of the pope, that they would coexist and unite. Germany and France, the two countries that had fought the most against each other, were the founding fathers of this union. France's Foreign Minister Schuman was among the most important advocates of the union idea. The number of states that believed in his union idea back then was six, but later everyone would join and the number would reach 28.

Pope: We caught serious diseases

During the speech, which everybody listened to with great attention, Pope Francis emphasized those days, but he could not refrain from mentioning the pains suffered by the union and holy Rome.

“Sixty is a mature and critical age. We caught inevitable diseases brought on by the long years. Do not hesitate to take new and effective steps to solve the real problems and continue on your walk.”

He repeated part of the selfishness, greed, capitalism, discrimination, irreligiousness and immorality problems he criticized at every opportunity, looking the leaders straight in the eye.

The pope was aware that the European Union, in other words, the holy Rome dream, was in its most critical phase. This was the first time a member country had left since its foundation. Hence, the U.K. was not invited. That day, they quietly remembered late French leader Goulle, who had vetoed the U.K.'s joining two times because he didn't trust them.


Great fear: The EU is going to collapse


However, the fear that the union would collapse had settled in everyone's hearts despite the Vatican's holy and spiritual support. Among the leaders of the 27 countries that were present, there were the influences of far-right politician who want to leave the union. Even if not this year, it seemed fateful that these racist parties would win the elections within a couple of years. It appears the pope's prayers cannot stop this either.

Hence, a new declaration that plans the EU's next decade was announced in that famous Palazzo dei Conservatori where the foundation of the union was first laid.

“Our union is unbreakable. Europe is our common future. If we act individually, we will become disconnected from global dynamics…”

The only thing they didn't do in the declaration was beg in the name of the holy mother, Mary. That is how much the fear could be sensed in the text. Because they could not tolerate another member leaving. EU Commission President Juncker had asked that nobody leave, that they would celebrate the EU's centenary in that spectacular hall. But nobody, primarily German Chancellor Angela Merkel, had hope that anybody would live that long.

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who hosted them in Rome with great care, tried to say, “You have been living in peace for 60 years, what is your problem,” but he was also unable to explain to anybody why the Five Star Movement, which will likely bring him down in the next election, became so popular. That movement was also in favor of leaving the EU and its ideas were gradually spreading through all of Europe.

EU Parliament President Tajani was a little more realistic. He said, “We need radical changes.” The leaders of the second league countries of the union, primarily Poland, Greece and Hungary, nodded in approval. They had enough of being belittled. They were no longer able to silence the uprising of their people who say that Germany is exploiting them. But they couldn't say anything to Merkel who was sitting beside them either. Because she was the EU boss who provided aid during the financial crisis.


The problem is greater than they think


The refugee problem and economic crisis had actually caused a tremor great enough for the EU to collapse. However, all the leaders sitting in front of magnificent Michelangelo paintings were gradually coming to understand that the problem did not consist of this.

The pope gathered all the leaders like they were his children in the Sistine Chapel, one of the world's most grandiose sanctuaries, and they had a family photograph taken. While smiling at each other's faces, they wanted to ignore a fact: The pain of holy Rome was not a simple tummy ache. Like the pope said, they had caught serious diseases.
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