Final Word from Thursday, January 2, 2020

Some 100 days after putting his signature to the Munich Agreement, Neville Chamberlain made the first visit in modern history to the Vatican by a British prime minister. Beginning in June 1931, Pope Pius XI had repeatedly associated Fascism and Nazism with pagan worship of the state, and the New York Times characterized Chamberlain's meeting as a "moral alignment which unites those who strive to buttress the established moral order against a new worship of force, race or State." Prior to the meeting, the NYT had written that, "Europe these days is constantly falling into two camps. The division between these rival camps is determined not so much by political or racial as by moral considerations.... Imperceptibly, the fight for world markets becomes a struggle of rival civilizations." With Trump, Putin, Erdogan and Babiš frequently compared to Hitler, the tendency to see issues on "higher moral grounds" (to quote the Times) is nearly as strong now as it was in Jan. 1939. [ Czech Republic Italy Germany United Kingdom PM Donald Vladimir Recep Tayyip Andrej Turkey Russia ]

Glossary of difficult words

pagan - relating to those holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions;

to buttress - to increase the strength of or justification for; to reinforce;

imperceptibly - in a way that is so slight, gradual or subtle as not to be perceived.

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