Italian Leaders Back Recognition of Christianity in European Constitution

Cross Section of Leaders Notes Religious Influence in Continent

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ROME, JAN. 28, 2003 ( Italian politicians of the right, left and center called for the recognition in the European Constitution of Christian values which form part of the continent’s identity.

«It is undeniable that Europe’s most profound identity is found both in religious values as well as in the so-called Judeo-Christian tradition,» said Deputy Premier Gianfranco Fini. «The most profound laicism consists, precisely, in recognizing this truth.»

Fini was among the politicians participating in a conference Monday on «The European Convention and the Christian Roots of Europe from East to West.»

The conference was organized by the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and the Guile Foundation, with the support of the president of Italy and the president of the Council of Ministers.

Gianfranco Fini urged that the European Convention, the forum in charge of writing the future Constitution, «have the courage to take a step forward» with respect to the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. That document, approved in 2000, limits itself to making reference to the «spiritual and moral heritage.»

For his part, Lamberto Dini, a member of the current center-left opposition in Italy and a former Foreign Affairs Minister, supported Fini’s thesis.

«I will support any proposal that tends to introduce in the preamble of the European Constitution the reference to spiritual values, and to religious and Christian values,» Dini said.

Dini, vice president of the Italian Senate, said that the debate on this topic in the convention will be «difficult.» But he supported the European Popular Party’s proposal to «make specific reference to the role of the Church in the formation of Europe over the past 2,000 years.»

Socialist Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister and vice president of the European Convention, also addressed the conference. He said that each of the European Union countries should hold a referendum for the final approval of the Constitution.

Antonio Tajani, vice president of the European Popular Party in the European Parliament, said that the objective of many of the politicians of his parliamentary group is to open «a debate,» as «a community of half a billion people cannot be based just on the economy, but must have fundamental values.»

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