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Moscow joins Rome in plea to EU

 The Russian Orthodox Church has joined Pope John Paul II in calling for the explicit recognition of the role of religion in the new constitution of the European Union. In an open letter to former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who now chairs the committee drafting the Constitution Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk called for "a reference to the Christian heritage of the European Union, as well as to other religious traditions and secular thoughts and ideas." Mr Kirill, head of the External Church Relations department for the Moscow Patriarchate, said he was concerned at that the current draft does not mention the role of religion in European society. He claimed an explicit reference would reassure those believers worried by a secular drift in European public affairs. "The proposed provisions of the constitution of Europe leave aside the tremendous layer of religious culture, which inspires minds and heart," said Mr Kirill. "A Europe that renounces religion, and especially Christianity, as one of its fundamental life-giving forces cannot be the fatherland for many people who live here."