Buttiglione Foresees a Europe of Strong Faith

Address by Official Whose Beliefs Cost Him a Post

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 12, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Italian official whose pro-family views cost him a post on the European Commission says he is convinced that in tomorrow’s Europe there will be people of “strong faith.”

Rocco Buttiglione, Italian Minister of Community Policies, says he is “not pessimistic” about the future. He expressed this Tuesday in a conference on “Proposing a New Voice for Christians in Politics,” organized by the Vatican Forum at the Russian Ecumenical Center of Rome.

The magazine Inside the Vatican and the U.S.-based Acton Institute co-sponsored the conference.

Last October, a European Parliamentary commission rejected Buttiglione’s candidacy for membership in the European Commission, after he expressed a traditional view of marriage and said that homosexuality is a sin.

“Jesus has promised that the Church will survive, not European Christians,” said the politician-philosopher, adding immediately that he does not think European Christianity will disappear.

“Christians could disappear in Europe, but I don’t think this will happen because they have a plan for Europe,” he said.

“We need people who have faith and children,” he stressed. Later he added: “We also need political action. Politics is never the solution, but whatever one does has a political side” to it.

Buttiglione, who is married and the father of four, proposed that all European countries include an objection to the European Constitution, requesting that family policies be the competence of each of the member states.

“Family issues must remain national policies,” he said. “Families need to have fewer taxes.”

Regarding abortion, Buttiglione said there is need “to rethink the whole issue” and to “reconstruct the alliance between the child and the mother” to fight the procedure. “It is very difficult to defend the child against the mother.”

He differentiated between the treatment of homosexuality and abortion.

“The first falls in the private sphere and morals, and does not concern the state,” he said. “The second, abortion, concerns politics and law.”

Regarding the continent, he said that “we must work and struggle” to make Europe better because we would “be at fault to abandon this Europe into the hands of our opponents.”

Is there “any other context in which we are called to witness our faith?” the Italian Minister asked. “No,” he replied, “this is our ‘kairos.'”

Regarding the relationship between Catholics and Orthodox, Buttiglione stressed the need to highlight common points in order to provide a defense before non-Christians.

“If we are aware that most of what we have in common is in danger and under attack, we will see how little we have that divides us,” he said.

Comparing America and Europe, Buttiglione said that they are similar but not identical. “America and Europe are siblings. We have the same DNA but we are not twins.”

After speaking about church-state relations in the United States and Europe, Buttiglione concluded by saying that the word “laicismo” does not really appear in English because the concept is not a reality in the United States.

Referring to the sexual scandals that lacerated the Church in the United States, Buttiglione was confident that the problems have been surmounted and that the Church has been “purified.”

Rocco Buttiglione sees the Church in Europe as “intimidated” and suffering from “secularization,” tending to be “marginalized,” and urged Christians of conviction “to present our position.”

Regarding Turkey’s eventual entry in the European Union, Buttiglione stressed that this is not the moment. “Before another enlargement, we need time. Let’s wait and see.”

Buttiglione, a professor at the Pius V University of Rome, laid the foundations for a multicultural model, emphasizing the need “to go back to the natural law because multiculturalism is all right if grounded on the natural law, where we all have rights and duties.”

The Vatican Forum is an association of Rome-based journalists covering the Vatican; students; and others interested in helping the Church and the media to communicate.

The forum, founded by Andrea Kirk Assaf, regularly presents speakers on newsworthy matters concerning the Church and its teachings.

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