Europe - EU
Pope Disappointed by Absence of Christianity in Eurotext
("Zenit.org," June 20, 2004)
John Paul II publicly expressed his disappointment over the text of the constitution, backed by European Union leaders on Friday, which fails to mention the continent's Christian roots.
"We cannot be severed from our roots," the Pope said today in Polish before bidding farewell to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus.
The Holy Father saluted his homeland, whose government tried to have the role of Christianity mentioned in the Constitutional Treaty.
"I thank Poland which, in the European forum, faithfully defended the Christian roots of our continent, from which arose the culture and development of the civilization of our time," he said.
On Saturday, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls published a statement saying that the "Holy See cannot but express its distress over the opposition of some governments to the explicit recognition of the Christian roots of Europe."
"It is a question of disregard of the historical evidence and of the Christian identity of European peoples," said the director of the Vatican press office.
"The Holy See expresses heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to those governments that, aware of the past and of the historical horizon in which the new Europe is taking shape, worked to express concretely its recognized religious heritage," Navarro Valls continued.
"Not to be forgotten is the intense commitment of different entities to have the Christian heritage of Europe mentioned in this treaty, stimulating the reflection of political leaders, citizens, and public opinion on a question that is not secondary in the present national, European and world context," he said.
The Vatican spokesman expressed satisfaction over Article 51 of the constitution, "which safeguards the status of religious confessions in the Member States, and commits the Union to maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with them, recognizing their identity and specific contribution."
The EU leaders must now turn to their own citizens for approval of the constitution. If approved in all 25 EU nations, the text will replace the existing five treaties which govern the union, set up in 1957 to promote economic and political integration to prevent future wars.