ROME, OCT. 15, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Religious representatives looking ahead to European unification met with European Council president Silvio Berlusconi and other officials and emphasized the importance of guaranteeing freedom of religion.
They also made a fresh call for a reference to Europe’s Christian roots in the preamble of the continents’ future Constitution.
They further asked respect for the existing juridical relations in member states of the European Union, and the development of an open, transparent and regular dialogue.
The meeting Tuesday formed part of a series of encounters between the Church and Social Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) with the six-monthly rotating presidency of the European Union.
In his introduction, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, renewed his call for a specific recognition of Europe’s Christian roots to be introduced in the preamble of the draft Constitutional Treaty.
He also emphasized the need to “recognize clearly and safeguard fully the institutional autonomy, the specific identity, the rights and the role of the churches, as a symbol of freedom and the reciprocal cooperation between religious and civil institutions.”
Article 51 of the draft Constitutional Treaty on this point “represents a delicate compromise, of which any eventual modifications would be unfounded and unacceptable,” the cardinal said. He also recalled the importance of the principle of subsidiarity in the European integration process.
The president of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy, Giovanni Federico Long, also underlined the support of European denominations for policies that favor human rights and guarantee religious freedom.
With regard to ethics and bioethics, the religious representatives expressed their desire to see the full respect of human life affirmed in European legislation, especially when it is most vulnerable — at its beginning and its end. They also asked for the safeguarding of the family founded on marriage.
Regarding immigration and the protection of refugees, they underlined the need to combine the ethics of human rights and solidarity with security and legality.