European Convention Must Be Open to Christian Values, Pope Insists

Request Presented to New French Ambassador to the Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2002 ( John Paul II again asked that the European Convention recognize the role Christianity continues to play in shaping the humanism of which the Old World so prides itself.

The Pope made this request when he received the letters of credence of career diplomat Pierre Morel, 58, France’s new ambassador to the Vatican.

«At a time when the work of the commission, charged with reflecting on the opportuneness of a Constitution of the Union, has just begun, it seems fundamental that the objectives of the construction and the values on which it must be based be made more explicit,» the Holy Father said.

The objective of the European Convention, which is presided over by former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing and which began its working sessions in February, is to establish the constitutional and institutional picture of the future Europe.

«How is it possible not to mention the decisive contribution of the values transmitted by Christianity, which have contributed and continue to contribute to mold the culture and humanism of which Europe legitimately prides itself, without which it is not possible to understand its deepest identity?» the Pope asked the ambassador. The Holy Father has raised the question several times this year.

The French government played a decisive part in opposing any mention of Christianity in the European documents. President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, in particular, were categorically opposed to the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, published in October 2000, making any reference to religious values.

Both Jospin and Chirac believed that even a generic mention of religion was a violation of the French principle of church-state separation.

Yet, the Pontiff encouraged the historic role played by France in the process of European integration.

«As you know, the Holy See is happy over the creation of this European space, which numerous countries still hope to join, and which favors the emergence of new conditions of life,» the Pope continued.

«The latter should allow for better social development and promote cultural riches, contributing in a significant way to the promotion of peace and understanding among peoples in the whole Continent,» John Paul II added.

«Is it not, perhaps, one of the features of the humanist legacy of Europe, deeply rooted in the long Christian history, to work so that every people [and] nation will be able to live in the dignity and respect of individual and collective fundamental rights?» the Pope queried.

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