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Pope comments on European Commission dispute

Pope John Paul, a close friend of controversial European Commission candidate Rocco Buttiglione, entered the crisis over the new European Commission yesterday, saying it has to be resolved by showing respect for all points of view.

It was the first time the Pope has spoken directly about the dispute which erupted when a European Parliament committee rejected Buttiglione, Rome's candidate for the commission, because of his views on homosexuality and the role of women.

The Holy Father disclosed his opinion on the Buttiglione affair during a meeting with outgoing Commission President Romano Prodi, one of many European leaders in Rome for today's signing of Europe's new constitution.

"I hope that the difficulties that have surfaced these days regarding the new commission can find a solution of reciprocal respect for all of the positions put forward," he said.

Incoming European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday withdrew his proposed executive just ahead of an investiture vote in the European Parliament because of outrage over Buttiglione, his commissioner-designate for justice.

Buttiglione sparked fury during a confirmation hearing in the EU parliament last month by calling homosexuality "a sin" and putting forward a highly conservative view of the role of women in a family life.

The Pope's words on respect for everyone's position, appeared aimed at giving a shot in the arm to the besieged Buttiglione, a 56-year-old philosopher who has helped the Pope write some of his encyclicals.

They also followed complaints by Vatican and Italian Church officials over what they have branded an anti-Catholic "Inquisition" taking root in Europe.

Catholic intellectuals have poured scorn on some members of the European Parliament, accusing them of secular extremism for not being able to distinguish between a sin and a crime.

In his address, the Pope also hammered home his disappointment that Europe's new constitution does not include a reference to the continent's Christian roots.

"The Holy See has reminded everyone how Christianity, in its various expressions, has contributed to molding a common conscience for the peoples of Europe and how it has made a great contribution to shaping their civilizations," he said.

"Whether or not it is recognized in official documents, this is an undeniable fact that no historian can forget."

Pope Enters Fray on European Commission Dispute (Reuters 28/10/04)

Pope Tells How to Overcome "Idolatry of Wealth" (Zenit 27/10/04)
John Paul II intends to travel to Cologne for WYD (Catholic News Agency 28/10/04)
Pope hopes for resolution to European impasse (Catholic World News 28/10/04)

29 Oct 2004