Irish bishops call for solidarity with Europe

 The Irish Catholic Bishops discussed the forthcoming referendum on the Treaty of Nice at their Autumn Meeting in Maynooth last week. The Seminar was chaired by Cardinal Desmond Connell, Archbishop of Dublin. Other speakers included Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, and journalist Mary Kenny. Bishop Joseph Duffy, Chairman of the Bishops Committee on European Affairs, issued the following statement today:- We wish to reaffirm our support for the European Union as being in the best interests of our people. We see the purpose of the European Union as serving the common good in promoting justice and harmony for all. European integration is more than an economic and political option; it is a significant contributor to world peace internal peace resulting from new forms of social and political cooperation, and external peace, through the EU's contribution to global development and resolving conflict. However, despite its continuing contribution to peace and prosperity in Europe and its responsibility for promoting development, justice and peace elsewhere in the world, the European Union remains for many of our people remote and misunderstood. Too often it is seen simply as an economic marketplace rather than a community where values of mutual respect, justice and solidarity are promoted. We, along with the bishops of Europe, have been involved for many years in trying to ensure that the Christian heritage of Europe and the moral and social values that flow from that heritage are reflected in the life of the EU. That work will continue. We wish to express our solidarity with those states currently negotiating to become members of the European Union. In doing so, we stress the importance of the principle of subsidiarity on which the whole European process depends, not only at international and national level but at local level as well. This is the crucial precondition which enables citizens to participate fully and effectively. In practice it means much more opportunity for genuine dialogue and consultation of the kind provided by the National Forum on Europe during the past year. The principle of subsidiarity is also a matter of central importance for the European Convention which has been set up to reform the institutions. Regarding the Treaty of Nice, the Bishops endorse the statement of the Standing Committee of the Conference which was issued before the referendum last year. In that statement we indicated that on balance there seems to be a stronger case for the Treaty than against. However, we did not express an unqualified preference as to how votes should be cast. The issues that face us in the Treaty of Nice are important for the future of Europe. We strongly urge everybody to be as fully informed as possible and to cast their votes in the referendum. To read the bishops' earlier statements and the text of Bishop Duffy's lecture visit:

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