European Convention Urged to Remember the Role of Religions

Catholics Join Orthodox and Other Christians in Petition

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, OCT. 1, 2002 ( The Catholic Church joined with Orthodox churches and Christian denominations to send a letter asking for due recognition in any future European Constitution.

The letter, revealed to the press today, was dated Sept. 27 and sent to Valery Giscard d’Estaing, president of the European Convention, which is debating the Continent’s institutional future.

The letter was signed by Monsignor Noel Treanor, secretary-general of the Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), and Keith Jenkins, associate secretary-general of the Conference of European Churches.

In the letter, the groups ask that consideration be given to the contribution of various religious confessions to the making of Europe.

They ask the convention to introduce the following statements in a future constitution: «The European Union recognizes and respects the right of Churches and Religious Communities to freely organize themselves in accordance with national law, their convictions and statutes, and to pursue their religious aims in the framework of fundamental rights.»

A second proposal states: «The European Union respects the specific identity and the contribution to public life of Churches and Religious Communities and maintains a structured dialogue with them.»

The letter also wants a third point included: «The European Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of Churches and Religious Communities in the Member States. The Union equally respects the status of philosophical and non-confessional organizations.»

The Conference of European Churches is a union of 127 Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant churches and denominations of all European countries.

COMECE is a commission of Catholic bishops of the EU member-states. Bishops of the episcopal conferences of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland are associate members.

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