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Vatican cool toward "myopic" Euro constitution

The absence of any reference to Christianity in the European constitution is "more than anti-Christian prejudice", according to the Vatican's top foreign-policy officials, who have described it as "cultural myopia".

Catholic World News reports that Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo (pictured), the Secretary for Relations with States, spoke to the Italian daily La Stampa as 25 European leaders gathered in Rome for Friday's signing of the new constitution. In offering the Vatican's perspective on the event, the archbishop made no effort to conceal the disappointment still felt by Church leaders at the failure of European leaders to include a mention of the continent's religious patrimony.

"A mention of the Christian origins of Europe in the preamble of the constitutional treaty was earnestly desired by many citizens on the continent: Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants," Archbishop Lajolo told La Stampa. He added that an honest acknowledgment of the Christian influence would not undermine the "healthy secularity" of today's governments, but simply affirm the common cultural patrimony on which European society is built.

The European Union should not rely on "vague memories" of a shared history as a unifying factor, said Archbishop Lajolo. Rather, the Union should "be more conscious of that it was, specifically, that forged the spiritual shape" of contemporary Europe. In this context he argued that a failure to recognize the religious influence on European history shows an astonishing "myopia."

The text of the European constitution was approved on 18 June, after a long debate over several issues, including the religious question. The constitution will enter into force when it has been ratified by each of the 25 member states of the European Union.

The path forward was "smoothed" by the announcement that Italy's controversial European Commission nominee, the overtly Catholic Rocco Buttiglione, has said he is standing down as commissioner-designate.

"I am ready to stand aside to smooth the way for (the) commission," he said.

Mr Buttiglione faced opposition from the European Parliament over his views on homosexuality and women.

Vatican cool toward "myopic" Euro constitution (Catholic World News 29/10/04)
EU row candidate stands down (BBC News 30/10/04)

Pope asks EU to recall Christian roots (Reuters 29/10/04)
Vatican feels besieged as European leaders reject its teachings (Journal Gazette/Associated Press 30/10/04)
Vatican hesitant on Turkey's bid for EU membership (Catholic World News 29/10/04)
Q&A: EU - myths and realities (BBC News)
Gateway to the European Union | Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe

32 Nov 2004