Pope Expresses His Concern Over Europe to Giscard D'Estaing

Reiterates Plea That Constitution Acknowledge Contribution of Christianity

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II received European Convention President Valery Giscard d’Estaing in audience and reiterated his hopes that a future Constitution would recognize the role of religion in the continent.

Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls revealed that during the meeting, there were discussions “about the project of the future Constitution and the interests of the community of believers in European countries, where they are in the majority, to see their identity and their specific contributions to the life of European societies respected.”

In addition, the Holy Father requested that the future Constitution recognize “the statute” enjoyed by communities of believers “by virtue of national legislations.”

Following his papal audience, Giscard d’Estaing, a former French president, met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, secretary for relations with states.

The exclusion of the representatives of communities of believers from the European Convention, which began its working sessions at the end of last February, was lamented Jan. 10 by John Paul II in an address to the ambassadors accredited to the Vatican.

Since then, on various occasions the Holy Father has expressed his “concern” and “distress” in seeing that the political and civil forum, initiated in February, falls into the “marginalization of religions, which have contributed and still contribute to the culture and humanism of which Europe feels itself legitimately proud.”

“I think that it is at the same time an injustice and an error of perspective,” John Paul II said Sept. 2 when he received the new ambassador of Greece.

“To recognize an undeniable historical fact does not at all mean to be unaware of the exigency of a just secularism of states and, therefore, of Europe,” the Pontiff added.

Giscard d’Estaing arrived in Rome for a two-day visit to present the first draft of a future European Constitution, unveiled publicly in Brussels last Monday.

The European Convention is expected to hand its proposal to the heads of government of the European Union at the end of the first quarter of 2003.

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