3rd Dec 2023

Fight looms over Christianity in Constitution

  • JOHN PAUL II - the Vatican and representatives of the Orthodox Church in Europe are strongly pushing for an explicit reference to Christianity in the European Constitution (Photo: Polish government)

Despite the fact that the European Convention chaired by the former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing did not make a reference to the Christian heritage of Europe in the draft EU Constitution, some governments still see room for manoeuvre regarding the sensitive issue.

At the June ceremony for the handing over of the treaty blueprint to the Italian EU Presidency, the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi indicated four countries - Italy, Spain, Poland, Ireland – as ready to push for a reference to Christianity.

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But the list seems now to have got longer.

This week the Slovak government included a mention of "Christian roots and values of Europe" in its official position for the Intergovernmental conference.

Another country to opt strongly for such a provision in the preamble will be Malta. The Maltese Prime Minister in a letter addressed the EU President-in-office wrote that "Malta wholeheartedly supports the insertion of a reference to God and the Christian heritage of Europe".

There are also rumours that other countries may join the list. Those belonging in the as yet uncommitted box include Austria, Portugal and the Netherlands – all three have conservatives in government.

On the other side of the fence, French President Jacques Chirac has made it clear that he will defend the lay character of the French state and is not going to accept a "religious reference" in the EU Constitution.

The European Parliament two weeks ago also rejected an amendment by the largest political fraction, the EPP-ED group for inclusion of a reference to the "judeo-christian roots of Europe" in the preamble of the new treaty. 283 MEPs were against the proposal while 211 voted in favour.

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