Convention's Vice President Favors Religion in European Constitution

Status of Ecclesial Communities Must Be Recognized, Says Giuliano Amato

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, JUNE 27, 2002 ( The idea of recognizing the religious roots of Europe in the continent’s future Constitution is gaining ground at the heart of the European Convention that is looking at reforms.

Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister and a current vice president of the European Convention, said this week he is in favor of «recognizing the role that all religions have, and have had, in weaving the fabric of European values.»

This was the first time a member of the Convention expressed himself in these terms. Some months ago, the Convention’s other vice president, Belgian Christian Democrat Jean Luc Dehaene, was pessimistic about this possibility.

Amato spoke to journalists Tuesday at the end of the Convention’s sixth plenary session, which was essentially dedicated to hearing the views of representatives of civil society.

Before Amato’s address, Keith Jenkins, vice secretary-general of the Conference of European Churches, addressed the assembly with proposals agreed by the Christian denominations that are members of the conference, and by the Catholic Church.

«The future European Constitutional text must incorporate fundamental rights,» Jenkins said, stressing that such rights are universal and transcend politics and laws because they are based on the dignity of the human being and «that dignity comes from God.»

The 11th Declaration of the Treaty of Amsterdam, Jenkins said, «should be incorporated in a future constitutional text,» because it sanctions the European Union’s respect for «the status of churches, of religious associations and communities, and of non-confessional organizations as recognized in different states.»

Communities «of faith and conviction have contributed to form European culture and values,» Jenkins said. «Christian Churches maintain that they have contributed and continue to contribute positively and significantly to the construction of Europe,» without denying the importance of other religions, he added.

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