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Monday, October 24, 2016
European bishops welcome EU constitutional treaty
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¬†On Friday night, Heads of State and Government adopted the Constitutional Treaty for the European Union. Mgr Noel Treanor, Secretary General of COMECE, gave the following initial reaction: "First and foremost, I should like to welcome the fact that Europe's leaders have agreed on a Constitutional Treaty for the European Union. After the disappointing turnout at last week's elections, the people of Europe needed a clear signal that their leaders could work together for the common good. Admittedly, the process of bargaining and compromise ≠ both in the European Convention and in the Intergovernmental Conference ≠ sometimes obscures the novelty of this treaty. But there should be no doubt that it marks a major step forward in the development of the European Union. "The significance of the Constitutional Treaty lies in the fact that it redefines the democratic mission of the Union. It identifies clearly the values and objectives, rooted in its common heritage, that guide the EU. It makes the Union's institutions and tasks easier to understand, which if presented responsibly by the EU's politicians should help to address the serious sense of alienation among many Europeans. It reinforces the principle of subsidiarity, that political action should be taken at the lowest effective level. And it provides an unprecedented opportunity for all citizens and actors in civil society to contribute through the democratic process to a Europe of peace, justice and solidarity. "The way in which the Constitutional Treaty recognises and embraces religious freedom and the role of religious communities in public life is particularly welcome. It guarantees both respect for diversity and dialogue between religious institutions and the political authorities. By balancing a spirit of openness between the religious and the political with the proper separation of the two spheres, Article I-51 embodies a new, inclusive approach to governance fit for the challenges of European society in the 21st century. "The revised preamble also represents a more balanced and accurate account of the source of the Union's values. By referring in its opening words to Europe's "cultural, religious and humanist inheritance", the Constitutional Treaty emphasises the formative role of this inheritance ≠ of which Christianity is an essential part ≠ for today's Europe. For this very reason I regret that the Heads of State and Government failed to find a formulation that would have explicitly recognised the undeniable contribution of Christianity and other traditions. This omission does not alter the fact that the Union's values as described in Article I-2, above all respect for human dignity, have been inspired by Christian thought. But it represents a missed opportunity to build on our common heritage a future that is open and inclusive for all. "The satisfaction at the adoption of the Constitutional Treaty must be tempered by a determination to ensure its ratification in all 25 member states. The Union's political leaders must now take up their responsibility to inform citizens of what the treaty means for them." COMECE is a commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conferences of the member states of the European Union.
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