Believers Being Shut Out in European Integration, Pope Warns

Says Their Contribution Was Rejected at December Summit

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 10, 2002 ( John Paul II lamented that believers are being marginalized from the process of European integration, which is not only «an injustice» but also «an error of perspective.»

When meeting today with the ambassadors accredited to the Vatican, the Holy Father deplored that at the last European Union summit held in Belgium, from Dec. 14-15, «no explicit mention was made of communities of religious believers» for this endeavor.

Referring to initiatives for writing a «Constitution for the Union,» the Pope said: «With some regret, I have noted that no explicit mention was made of communities of religious believers among the partners who are to contribute to the reflection on the Convention instituted at the Laeken summit last month.»

«The marginalization of religions, which have contributed and continue to contribute to the culture and humanism of which Europe is legitimately proud, strikes me as both an injustice and an error of perspective,» the Holy Father said.

«To recognize an indisputable historical fact in no way means to disregard the modern demand for States to have an appropriate non-confessional character, and therefore Europe as well,» the Pontiff added.

With an eye toward a future European constitution, John Paul II urged that «it is essential to make increasingly explicit the goals of the process of building up Europe and the values on which it must rest.»

Yet, among the «reasons for satisfaction» present in the world, the Pope mentioned «the progressive unification of Europe, recently symbolized by the adoption of a single currency by 12 countries.»

«This is a decisive step in the long history of this continent,» he said. «However, it is also important that the expansion of the European Union should continue to be a priority.»

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