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Saturday, February 25, 2017
Church delegates meet EU president
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¬†In a meeting today at Rome's Palazzo Chigi, representatives of the Churches discussed their role in the European unification process with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. They emphasised the need to guarantee religious freedom, respect for the existing juridical relations in EU member states, and the development of an open, transparent and regular dialogue. They also made a fresh call for a reference to Europe's Christian roots in the Preamble of the future EU Constitution. Today's meeting forms part of a series of encounters between the Church and Society 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. As well as Mr Berlusconi, the President-in-office of the European Council, the Church representatives met Gianfranco Fini, Deputy Prime Minister, Franco Frattini, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Rocco Buttiglione, Secretary of State for European Affairs. 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 EU Constitutional Treaty. He also emphasises the need to, "recognise 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 co-operation between religious and civil institutions". The proposal of the draft Constitutional Treaty on this point (cf. art. 51), "represents a delicate compromise, of which any eventual modifications would be unfounded and unacceptable". Finally, Cardinal Ruini recalled the importance of the principle of subsidiarity, which is necessary for the people of Europe to be able to participate effectively in the European integration process. The President of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy, Professor Giovanni Federico Long, also underlined the commitment of the Churches in Europe to supporting the promotion of policies in favour of human rights and the importance of legislative measures to guarantee religious freedom. With regard to ethics and bio-ethics, the Church 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 specific nature of the family founded on marriage to be safeguarded. The Church representatives furthermore recalled the commitment of the Churches in the field of immigration and the protection of refugees. In particular they underlined the need to combine the ethics of human rights and solidarity with security and legality. Source: COMECE
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