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4th Mar 2024

EU needs constitution with Christian reference, Merkel says

  • The German chancellor will lead the debate on where to go with the deadlocked EU constitution next year (Photo: CDU)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested Europe needs a constitution that makes reference to Christianity and God following her audience with Pope Benedict XVI on Monday (29 August).

The German leader, the daughter of a protestant pastor, visited the Pope at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, to discuss several issues in European and international politics, ahead of the Pope's September visit to Germany, his homeland.

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"We spoke about freedom of religion," Ms Merkel told journalists following the 45-minute meeting.

She added "I underlined my opinion that we need a European identity in the form of a constitutional treaty and I think it should be connected to Christianity and God, as Christianity has forged Europe in a decisive way," according to press reports.

The Christian Democrat leader has previously spoken out in favour of reopening the debate on religion in the constitution as the EU considers how to tackle the deadlock after the treaty's rejection by French and Dutch voters last year.

Germany has been assigned by EU member states to come up with some kind of solution to the constitutional crisis during its presidency of the union in the first six months of 2007.

Like Mrs Merkel, some leading figures of the European People's Party - the federalist centre-right pan-European group - have pointed out that a possible re-drafted treaty should include clear links to Europe's Christian heritage.

During earlier negotiations on the content of the new EU charter, Spain, Italy and Poland were among the strongest supporters of a reference to God in the treaty.

But its opponents argued it could prove controversial in view of Turkey's potential membership of the EU as well as due to the strict separation of state and church in some countries, such as France.

Currently, the preamble refers to Europe's religious heritage only in general terms.

"Drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, the values of which, still present in its heritage, have embedded within the life of society the central role of the human person and his or her inviolable and inalienable rights, and respect for law," it states.

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