The aim of this article is to contribute to thinking on pre-political foundations of secular societies. I do so through the idea of Europe. The importance of pre-political foundations relates to power and freedom, specifically how freedom truly can be freedom and not ultimately power. The paper includes two sections: Section 1 discusses Europe’s Westphalian system as the model for global international relations. Henry Kissinger’s proposal that a modern Westphalian system should be adopted by the international community, as outlined in his 2014 World Order Reflections on the Character of Nations and the Course of History, is explored and critiqued. Section 2 looks at an alternative vision of Europe as the global template which addresses many of the open issues identified in Kissinger’s proposal. Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI sees Europe as a historical and cultural idea with, as pre-political foundation, the primacy of rationality as creative reason. Ratzinger’s vision does not displace Kissinger’s; rather it informs it. Core to this discussion are freedom, power, interests and universal values, specifically how these four components interact and can be managed to produce positive constructive outcomes; ultimately these interactions relate to the pre-political foundations that orientate societies.