We ought all be familiar with the major influence Islam has on the politics of the Middle East. And the influence of Jewish spokesmen of the orthodox far right in Israeli politics. And of the evangelicals in U.S. politics. But there is another area where religion is being heard in the moral and political arena. Europe is now center stage on the political scene.
There are three major views of the future of Europe. One is of the single market of the European Community, essentially a secular economic view with vague political goals. Another is of Mr. Gorbachev who speaks of the "common European home" in which he sees the Soviet Union also residing.
Then there is a third view, unnoticed before late 1982, and unnoticed still by many who think of religion in European politics as only a historical curiosity. This third view is that of Pope John Paul II, who sees a Europe with-out spiritual frontiers. A Europe in which morals rule from Atlantic shores to the Urals. An entire continent that has rediscovered its spiritual roots, that has healed the religious disunity of centuries.
In the Pontiff's view faith in Marxism is dead in Eastern Europe, as well as faith in Christianity in much of the West. He intends to reawaken that faith in the Continent's historic Christian heritage - its roots - and build a bridge between East and West Europe. Parliamentarians, meanwhile, may concern themselves with the question of restricting the activities of sects and other religions that have come into Europe.