Sunday

29th Jan 2023

Row over Christianity in the Constitution heats up

Spain has abandoned its calls for a reference to Christianity in the Constitution.

Speaking to Radio France Internationale, Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos on Monday said that the current draft of the Constitution, which makes no specific reference to Christianity, is "perfect".

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  • The Christianity issue rumbles on (Photo: European Commission)

"Spain is a Catholic country, but at the same time I believe that in the European Constitution our government is rather secular and, in this sense, we want to respect the text as it currently stands".

But, although Spain may have altered its position, the issue remains very controversial for some countries.

On the table again

Seven member states - Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Slovakia - sent a letter to the Irish EU Presidency on Friday demanding that there be a reference to Christianity in the Constitution.

"This issue remains a priority for our Governments, but also for many representatives of the European Parliament and of National Parliaments, as well as for millions of European citizens", says their letter.

It goes on: "The amendment we ask for is aimed to recognize an historical truth. We do not want to disregard neither the secular nature of the European Institutions, nor the respect of any other religious or philosophical belief".

At the moment, the preamble to the text refers to the "cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe".

At the other end of the scale, France and Belgium remain firmly opposed to mentioning Christianity.

Proposals to solve the issue include attaching a declaration to the Constitution saying that countries could interpret the preamble as referring to Christian heritage.

However, German MEP Elmar Brok, who represents the European Parliament in the Constitution negotiations, on Monday dismissed such an idea saying it would be "rather striking" to have different things written for different countries.

Discussed by foreign ministers

EU foreign ministers discussed the issue during a meeting on the treaty blueprint in Brussels on Monday.

France, Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, Denmark and the UK were among those calling for the preamble to remain as it is.

The seven countries which wrote the letter on Christianity repeated their position while most of the rest were prepared to go with the consensus found, said diplomatic sources.

The issue is set to be left to EU leaders to deal with when they meet in June to finalise the Constitution negotiations.

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