No Place for Religion in EU Constitution: The Absence of God Does Not Mean an Absence of Good. (Opinion)

By Harth, Elfriede | Conscience, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

No Place for Religion in EU Constitution: The Absence of God Does Not Mean an Absence of Good. (Opinion)


Harth, Elfriede, Conscience


Pope John Paul II has "expressed his deep disappointment" that the draft text of the European Constitution does not mention the contributions and role of Christian churches in the development of the European Union.

A statement from the Vatican released after the pope met with British prime minister Tony Blair, said, "The Holy See expressed the wish for an explicit recognition of the churches and community of believers, as well as for a commitment by the European Union to maintain a structured dialogue with the churches." The convention responsible for drafting the constitution is currently discussing 1,100 amendments before its June deadline to present the final document to member states.

The European Union is a historically unique enterprise by sovereign states to peacefully sit down and negotiate the terms of political, economical and social interaction and cooperation. This is done in the name of fundamental universal values: peace, human dignity, freedom, equality, solidarity, plurality, subsidiarity and democracy. Are these values Christian or otherwise religious? What sense does it make to speak about "Christian peace" or "Christian subsidiarity," or else Muslim or Buddhist human dignity?

Why mention God in the EU constitution currently being drafted? This will be the first constitution adopted on European soil in the 21st century. The God of the Bible has given us Ten Commandments, and one of these prescribes that the name of God is holy and to be used with the utmost discretion. So many wars have been launched "in the name of God." The last wars on the European continent at the end of the 20th century were essentially still religious wars.

Because I am a Roman Catholic, I cannot stress enough that I would feel profoundly betrayed if the EU constitution included a reference to specific religious values that would be taken as a signal that the current values of the European countries and communities are an outgrowth of Christian or religious roots.

In many ways, the policies and values exemplified in modern law and practice in Europe are a clear departure from the rigid inequities and injustices that are still practiced in the name of religion, especially in the areas of gender, sexuality and reproduction. …

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