British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks visited with Pope Benedict XVI last month in Rome and defended Europe's Judeo-Christian heritage, including the "religious roots of the market economy and of democratic capitalism." In a speech there, he urged that Jews and Christians to work together to "help Europe recover its soul."
Separately, in a speech to the British House of Lords, Sacks denounced increasing persecution of Christians by radical Islam, warning that the "fate of Christians in the Middle East today is the litmus test of the Arab Spring." In Rome and in London, he was more outspoken than are many of Europe's often muted church officials, who typically fear to defend their faith, their culture, or their persecuted brethren.
"If Europe loses the Judeo-Christian heritage that gave it its historic identity and its greatest achievements in literature, art, music, education, politics, and economics, it will lose its identity and its greatness," Sacks warned during his Rome speech. "When a civilization loses its faith, it loses its future. When it recovers its faith, it recovers its future. For the sake of our children … we –Jews and Christians, side-by-side – must renew our faith and its prophetic voice."