Layman says European Constitution must reflect Christian values
There is a tendency in the contemporary world for the Church to be marginalised in some of the big debates concerning the future of civilisation. Last month, Pope John Paul lamented the European Union's rejection of the contribution of communities of believers in the convention, which should serve to write the future Constitution for the European Union. A prominent Italian jurist and layman, Professor Achille Chiappetti, says the European Charter has "to be Christian, because the history of the Old World is marked by natural values that are defended by Christianity". In the interview carried by Zenit, Professor Chiappetti would seem to be arguing against what the Pope called for and believes the values will be enshrined without any need for specific representation from religious groups.
Following is the interview carried by Zenit:
ROME, JAN. 28, 2002 (ZENIT.org-Avvenire).- The Parliamentary Observatory of Rome has just had a seminar on the convention that will elaborate a European Constitution, and it asked that the contribution of Christianity be kept in mind.
Jurist Achille Chiappetti, professor of public law at the University of La Sapienza in Rome, a layman and relator of the seminar, said he was convinced that the European Charter would have to be Christian, because the history of the Old World is marked by natural values that are defended by Christianity.
The seminar was held after John Paul II lamented the European Union's rejection last month of the contribution of communities of believers in the convention, which should serve to write the future Constitution.
"Religion entails enormous values for man," Chiappetti said. "Moreover, without the Christian religion, we would not have arrived at this level of our civilization."
Zenit: How do you explain the temptation to relegate Europe's Christian roots to the background, at the moment of undertaking the process that will lead to a European Constitution?
Chiappetti: It hasn't been said explicitly, but these roots are amply recalled in the Nice Charter of Rights which is completely laced, as is the whole of Western civilization, with the values of Christianity. The convention is now called to decide if that charter will be binding for all European states. "European rights" are precisely the contents of the text prepared in Nice. Articles 9 and 10, for example, safeguard marriage, the family and religions.
Zenit: In this phase preceding the Constitution, do you think it is necessary to listen to different religious confessions?
Chiappetti: Juridically, there is no obligation to listen to anyone in particular. In reality, the idea that was developed both in Nice as well as Laeken is that this process must be as open as possible to civil society.
There is the formal commitment to listen to all its constituents and even the obligation to take into consideration in the convention«s discussions the proposals that are made.
Zenit: How will Christian values be translated into juridical norms?
Chiappetti: Through reference to Christian values. It would be something logical, even without the need to proclaim explicitly that Christian values are the basis of the conception of man in modern society -- in part, because such a proclamation might even seem to be a sign of weakness, of fear that these values have been lost.
Certainly, after the Sept. 11 attacks, there is a need to declare them again, but the values are so strong that there is no need. When it says that the "Republic recognizes and guarantees the inviolable rights of man" and that the fulfillment of inalienable duties of solidarity is imperative, can this not already be read as pure Christianity?