“In 1933 a German dissident named Konrad Adenauer was placed under house arrest by the Nazis. A devout Catholic, he took the opportunity to study the Church’s social teaching.
In the great encyclicals of popes Leo XIII and Pius XI he found an immensely appealing vision – “an order willed by God which was perfectly practical in terms of modern society”.
When Adenauer became West German Chancellor after the war, he drew on that same tradition. And one of his major achievements – shared with those other Catholic statesmen, Alcide De Gasperi in Italy and Robert Schuman in France – was the work of European unification which would become the European Union.
Whatever the EU is today, its beginnings are inseparable from Catholic thought. When the British government, in the early 1950s, was weighing up the pros and cons of joining the European project, one significant worry was its noticeably Catholic flavour.
Conspiracy theorists still argue that the whole idea of European “union” is a Vatican plot, probably inspired by the Antichrist.
But if the EU really is a popish conspiracy, the first fortnight of the UK referendum campaign suggests that it’s a very badly organised one.”