Cardinal Ratzinger Assails European Charter

Doesn´t Recognize Christianity´s Contribution, He Says

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OPORTO, Portugal, MAR. 9, 2001 ( Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger criticized the European Charter of Fundamental Rights for not specifically recognizing the religious dimension of the human person and the rights stemming from it.

In addressing the Theological Days, held at the Catholic University of Oporto this week, the German cardinal stated: «Respect for that which is sacred to another, and reverence before the sacred in general, before God, is something totally reasonable, even for those who personally do not believe in God.»

The European Charter of Fundamental Rights, approved by the European Union governments at a December summit, does not have a binding character. Its implementation depends on each country´s juridical system.

The second paragraph of the introduction states: «Conscious of its spiritual and moral patrimony, the Union is based on the indivisible and universal values of human dignity, liberty, equality and solidarity.»

Leading politicians, such as French Socialist Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission, and his current successor, Italian Christian Democrat Romano Prodi, criticized the text for not making any reference to the Christian roots of the Old World, which were the foundation for the formulation of human rights.

Cardinal Ratzinger, the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said he believes that the «West is injuring itself, and this can only be classified as pathological.»

He added: «Indeed, it makes laudable efforts to be open to values that are foreign to it, but pays no attention to itself; it only sees in its history the most atrocious and destructive aspects, and is not able to accept what it has of greatness and purity.»

The cardinal noted that in Western society anyone who ridicules Israel´s faith or discredits the Koran or Islam is chastised. «But when it comes to Christ and values that are sacred to Christians,» he said, «freedom of opinion seems to be the highest value.»

Cardinal Ratzinger lamented the removal of any mention of God, since it is important to reiterate «the need to safeguard human dignity and human rights as values that are above any piece of juridical legislation.»

He also said he believes the charter is vague at times on recognizing concrete Christian values. He noted the absence of reference to «monogamous matrimony as the fundamental model for ordering the relation between man and woman and, at the same time, as cell of the social fabric of the state.»

The cardinal also noted that the European Union states declare themselves neutral in regard to religions, without considering that there are «characteristic traits of the identity of our culture» that need special safeguarding, such as the great festivities of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost.

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