Christianity at core of EU values, say European bishops

In a paper issued ahead of a forthcoming European Union declaration on common values, the continent's bishops has argued that the institution must be rooted in values that underlie the "transcendental destiny of the human person".

In a document, "Common values - the living source of the European project", presented last week to the leaders of European Union (EU) institutions, 21 bishops from the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community pointed to the Christian origins of the continent that preceded political union, Catholic Online reports.

Only by drawing upon common values will Europe be able to meet the "new and transnational challenges" of today and the future, the bishops' statement says.

The 1,200-word document was drafted in anticipation of the release of the EU Berlin Declaration, to be issued by the heads of member-state governments on 25 March 2007 that will attempt to provide a guide with regard to the values and long-term objectives of the EU.

That day also marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome by France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg that established the European Economic Community and created the basis for what has become the European Union.

For many of its founders, "the Christian imprint on the European project has been an indisputable fact," the bishops said.

"This ambition was deeply rooted in a set of common values with respect for human dignity at its core.

"This respect of human dignity served as the basis for promoting the protection of human rights, the rule of law, solidarity, subsidiarity and democracy," the European bishops said.

"These values correspond to Catholic social teaching which, too, is built on human dignity and the common good," they noted, adding that faced with new global challenges an understanding of those values "will need to be refined".

The issues facing the European community are wide ranging, the bishops say.

"How to promote social justice and sustainable economic growth in the era of globalisation? How to maintain decent living conditions and job security in times of rising unemployment and impoverishment? How to restore and promote family and community life under the conditions of drastic demographic changes?" the Catholic leaders asked.

The bishops also pointed to the further need to provide ethical responses to mass migration, shortage of energy supply, climate change, international terrorism and conflicts throughout the globe, and the respect of "undeniable diversity of the European peoples".

"The EU leaders will have to prove that these challenges can only be tackled by putting our common values into practice and developing concrete ambitions," the bishops argued.

They called upon all politicians, citizens and European institutions to work toward a new political and legal framework "which lives up to the needs and wishes of the people and serves the common good of Europe and the world".

EU must claim human dignity, rights, common values as core of its unity, bishops state (Catholic Online, 18/12/06)
Values: Key to putting the Human Person at the Heart of the European Project (COMECE, Media Release, 12/12/06)
Common values: The living source of the European project (COMECE statement, 24/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE)
European Union

Vatican cool toward "myopic" Euro constitution (CathNews, 23/11/06)

19 Dec 2006