"Lay Fundamentalism" Seen in European Parliament Action

Cardinal Tucci Says Resolution Violates Church-State Separation

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 15, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A resolution approved by the European Parliament on women and religion is an example of «lay fundamentalism,» warns Cardinal Roberto Tucci.

The cardinal spoke on Vatican Radio about the «Women and Fundamentalism» report on which the Parliament narrowly approved a resolution Wednesday.

«A resolution of the European Parliament has no immediate influence on legislation in the different states,» the cardinal said Thursday. «But it is an ideological message that could be important.»

«I think it is an authentic expression of exasperated laicism,» he added. «I would venture to call it ´lay fundamentalism,´ which is spreading and might have — let´s hope not — consequences for the writing of the so-called European Convention, the constitution that is being studied.»

Cardinal Tucci believes the resolution violates the principle of church-state separation and of religious liberty. He says the document would enable governments to impose on churches what they should believe and live.

During the debate in Strasbourg, France, some affirmations in the original report that openly denied fundamental rights were eliminated. An example was the idea that «when religious communities assume powers that belong to the public sector, they operate de facto in opposition to the democratic rule of law in the EU.»

The report, written by Spanish Socialist María Izquierdo, had the support of the European Socialist Party, the Liberals, and the Greens/European Free Alliance. Shortly before the voting, Izquierdo succeeded in obtaining the support of the European Unitary Left/Nordic Green Left.

A section deploring «the interference of the churches and religious communities in the public and political life of the state» was retained.

The text is based on the struggle of women under Muslim fundamentalist regimes, such as the Taliban, and rejects any religious proposal.

The document condemns «religious organizations and the leaders of extremist political movements who promote racial discrimination, xenophobia, fanaticism and the exclusion of women from leading positions in the political and religious hierarchy.»

The report explicitly calls on EU member states «not to recognize countries in which women cannot acquire full citizenship or are excluded from government.»

Based on this principle, Liberal Lousewies Van der Laan argued that the European Union should suspend its diplomatic relations with the Vatican, and that the latter should also lose its U.N. status.

In effect, the European Parliament would deny religions the right to proclaim their own moral doctrine and to have their own internal system of organization.

But the proclamation of religious truths is guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Union´s Charter of Fundamental Rights, entitled «Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion.»

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