Europe's Christian past is under threat not simply from without but from within. When Trump went to Poland he spoke to the Poles in the same way John Paul II did so long ago in his first homecoming after his election to the papacy. From his speech:
Through four decades of communist rule, Poland and the other captive nations of Europe endured a brutal campaign to demolish freedom, your faith, your laws, your history, your identity -- indeed the very essence of your culture and your humanity. Yet, through it all, you never lost that spirit. (Applause.) Your oppressors tried to break you, but Poland could not be broken. (Applause.)
And when the day came on June 2nd, 1979, and one million Poles gathered around Victory Square for their very first mass with their Polish Pope, that day, every communist in Warsaw must have known that their oppressive system would soon come crashing down. (Applause.) They must have known it at the exact moment during Pope John Paul II's sermon when a million Polish men, women, and children suddenly raised their voices in a single prayer. A million Polish people did not ask for wealth. They did not ask for privilege. Instead, one million Poles sang three simple words: "We Want God." . . .
As I stand here today before this incredible crowd, this faithful nation, we can still hear those voices that echo through history. Their message is as true today as ever. The people of Poland, the people of America, and the people of Europe still cry out "We want God." (Applause.)Together, with Pope John Paul II, the Poles reasserted their identity as a nation devoted to God. And with that powerful declaration of who you are, you came to understand what to do and how to live. You stood in solidarity against oppression, against a lawless secret police, against a cruel and wicked system that impoverished your cities and your souls. And you won. Poland prevailed. Poland will always prevail. (Applause.) . . .
The nations of Europe will never forget. We are the fastest and the greatest community. There is nothing like our community of nations. The world has never known anything like our community of nations.What Trump spoke resonated with the Poles because of all of Europe they have been at the forefront of refusing the revisionist history that rejects the Christian heritage and the fruits of a culture in which that Christianity flourished. They have been ostracized by their neighbors in pursuit of a global world in which there is no objective truth, in which morality is subservient to desire, in which life is a commodity, and in which diversity refuses to honor anything but its own twisted relative truth captive to the whim of the moment.
We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers.We reward brilliance. We strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression. (Applause.)We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives. And we debate everything. We challenge everything. We seek to know everything so that we can better know ourselves. (Applause.)And above all, we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom. That is who we are. Those are the priceless ties that bind us together as nations, as allies, and as a civilization.
For too much of Europe, Christianity is a history lesson and one many would rather forget. Instead of being the shape of hope, the Christian past has been falsely characterized as intolerant. As a result, Europe is a shadow of its former self both culturally and in terms of the Christian faith. But we are headed in exactly the same direction. The message Trump brought to Poland is exactly the message we need to hear -- not for the triumph of some Christian dominance but for the survival of hope in the message of Christ and Him crucified. No one will return to a moment in time that has come and gone but each must wrestle in our own age to raise up the cross and to refute those who wrongly characterize and dismiss that which is the only hope for a people living under the oppression of self, of a world that glories in desire, and in a culture of death. We who stand in pulpits on Sunday morning must equip our people to catechize in their homes and to stand with courage in their neighborhoods for the sake of Christ. In Europe the Christian past is seen by many as a generational view that is soon to pass as the ancients pass and a new secular age takes its place. But there is hope. The battle is ours to lose but it is God's to win. Among the young there is a yearning for hope that only the true Gospel can satisfy. Pray that we listen and pray that the Word of the Lord which endures forever will continue to be heard among the din of hopeless words and self-indulgent falsehoods.