Rights Charter Disappoints European Leader

Interview with Romano Prodi on Vatican Radio

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ROME, FEB. 8, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Among the critics of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, approved in December, is Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission.

The Charter was criticized by John Paul II and bishops throughout the continent, for failing to mention that Europe «is the cradle of the concepts of person and freedom, and that these concepts surfaced because of the fact that for a long time [Europe] was suffused with Christianity.»

Prodi, a practicing Catholic, was a Prime Minister of Italy and member of the Italian Popular Party, whose origins are found in Christian Democracy. In the following interview over Vatican Radio (http://www.radiovaticano.org), Prodi talked about the Charter.

–Q: Can it be said that one day the Charter will become the constitution of a United Europe?

–Prodi: I hope it will assume a formal value from the constitutional point of view. It makes existing fundamental values and rights visible, bringing them up-to-date with these terrible, great and beautiful novelties of the world, represented by globalization and the technological process.

The Charter makes explicit respect for human dignity and the fundamental rights of all citizens. However, there have been points on which there have been compromises. All of us lament that no specific mention of religion was made as the Charter´s source of inspiration, but it is also true that we have had to respect the secular tradition of some member states, particularly France. However, the preamble makes specific reference to the spiritual and moral patrimony. Clearly, it is not only bishops who are disappointed.

–Q: Is there room for the family and life in the Charter?

–Prodi: Explicitly. Cloning for purposes of reproduction is prohibited. So a strong limitation has been placed, a firm point. Moreover, the Charter leaves the door open to impede national lawmakers from other forms of cloning, such as therapeutic. I hope that additional steps will be taken in this direction.

–Q: The number of citizens of the European Union will grow … and there will continue to be migratory currents — yet another opportunity for Europe in terms of meeting, exchange and enrichment among peoples. How can the European Commission address this challenge?

–Prodi: Immigration will come increasingly from outside the Union. The more the acceptance of immigrants is shared, the more possible it is to be protected against illegal immigration. We do not stop immigration with machine guns or barbed wire fences, but with agreements with the countries where the people originate, in order to be able to count on the regular immigrants we need.

We are in the great years of the birthing of the state, of turbulence, but, at the end, a stronger Europe will emerge. I am not speaking of arms or traditional force; I am referring especially to science, to returning to the vanguard, to technological and scientific frontiers.

I am referring to traditions of the great Europe. It is a Europe that preserves languages: When we are in the European Parliament, I don´t speak English, I speak Italian. This is the new Europe.

The most beautiful definition I have found is, «Europe is a union of minorities,» because there is no one that tramples on the others.

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