VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2003 (Zenit.org).- To ensure Europe’s recognition of religious groups, the Catholic Church would like to see three fundamental points addressed in the continent’s future Constitution, says the Vatican’s secretary of state.
Above all, the Church requests “the juridical recognition of churches and religious communities, entailing, specifically, the right of each one to freely organize itself, in keeping with its own statutes and objectives,” said Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state.
In the second place, Catholics call for “the safeguarding of the specific identity of churches and religious communities and, in virtue of the contribution that the latter make to public life, to provide for structured dialogue between the Union and these confessions,” the cardinal continued.
Lastly, the Church requests “respect, on the part of the Union’s legislation, of the juridical status that religious confessions enjoy in virtue of the national legislations of the member states,” he added.
Cardinal Sodano outlined these requests in an interview today with the Italian newspaper Avvenire.
He added, though, that the possibility of including the Christian heritage of Europe in the future constitutional treaty is not “the most weighty aspect of our requests.”
“Yet, we consider it important because it corresponds to an undeniable historical fact: The cultural roots of European values are multiple, but Christianity has contributed to forge the latter in a particular way,” the cardinal clarified.
The Vatican secretary of state quoted the results of research that reveal that 81% of the citizens of the 15 EU member states and 10 applicant countries identify with a Christian confession.
“To exclude this factor would be like constructing Europe without taking Europeans in due consideration,” Cardinal Sodano said. “It would contradict the principles of genuine pluralism and, therefore, of a healthy democracy.”