Jacques Delors Says Religion Can´t Be Confined to Private Sphere

European Union Bishops Prepare Their Contribution to Convention

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LILLE, France, MARCH 8, 2002 (Zenit.org).- One of the Old World´s most respected politicians asked that the Church´s voice not be excluded in the construction of a new Europe.

Addressing a seminar organized by the Commission of the Episcopates of the European Community (COMECE), Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission, said that the continent «cannot confine religion to private life.»

The «laicism of the European Union» is not up for debate, Delors said Thursday. «But we hope that the Church will be heard in the process of Europe´s reform.»

The historic militant of French Socialism, regarded as one of France´s most popular politicians, added that the churches «must continue to be a force of proposition.»

Delors reiterated his regret over the suppression of any reference to the «Christian roots of Europe» in the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The decision was made due to the pressure exerted by the French government.

The congress organized by COMECE at the Catholic University of Lille was entitled «Challenges for a United Europe.» It came in the wake of the Feb. 28 opening of the European Convention.

On Jan. 10, John Paul II lamented that the contribution of believers to this forum, which is delineating the European Union´s future, might be marginalized.

In response to the Pope´s concern, the bishops of the European Union have set up a working group to prepare a document that will be the Catholic Church´s contribution to reflection on the new Europe.

Bishop Hippolyte Simon of Clermont, who will preside over the working group, said the document will be presented to the bishops in the next COMECE plenary assembly, and then be given to the convention and made public.

«We do not ask for privileges, but neither do we wish to be excluded from the debate over the future of our continent,» Bishop Simon said.

«The churches will be heard by the convention through the forum of the civil society, and we wish to make our contribution, which not only affects religious liberty, but also the rights of man,» he said.

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