European Union's anti-God stance could draw churches together
Vatican ecumenical chief Cardinal Walter Kasper is to host an academic symposium on papal primacy in May and has asked Orthodox theologians to take part.
Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, made the announcement as he led a Vatican delegation to visit Greek Orthodox leaders in Athens.
In a message published to mark the visit, Pope John Paul II said Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox must move beyond their troubled past and work together to ensure Christian faith and values continue to play an important role in Europe.
"The Catholic Church knows it has a task to fulfill on the European continent at this historic moment, and the responsibility it feels coincides with that of the Orthodox Church of Greece.
The Convention on the Future of Europe recently announced that it had decided all references to God must be removed from the key Article 2 of the new written EU framework.
"The future of Europe is so important that it pushes us to go beyond our past of divisions, misunderstandings and mutual estrangement," the Pope said.
Human and religious values, the recognition of church rights, the sacredness of human life and the moral obligation to protect the environment are all at stake, he said.
The Pope's concerns were echoed by Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and all of Greece, who said the churches must give a Christian witness to "a Europe that unfortunately day by day grows all the more worldly and secular and continues to distance itself from basic Christian values."
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
EU snubs Pope with no reference to God (19/2/03)
Pope renews appeal for EU constitution to recognize Christianity's roots in Europe (AP)
Concerns for Europe Stimulate Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue (Zenit)
26 Feb 2003