Religion and the Constitution

Feb 03, 2003 01:57 PM EST

NICE, Greece -- Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the International President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions has opened the debate on the role of religion in the future European Union constitution. The EU constitution, the most important redistribution of power in Europe since World War II is expected to be adopted as early as December of 2003.

Giscard announced following the summit in Nice that he is against a reference to God in the future constitution. He conceded that Europeans have a religious heritage but in the current secular-political system of Europe, religion cannot play a prominent role.

This move to separate church and state will confront great resistance from several members Giscard's own presidium - European People's Party. The EEP has been strongly pushing for a constitutional reference to religion.

One of the presidium member, John Burton summoned a petition for an article that states,

"The Union values shall include the values of those who believe in God as the source of truth, justice, good and beauty as well as of those who do not share such a belief but respect these universal values arising from other sources."

The matter has also been presented to the Pope. November 2002, the Pope asked the Convention not to forget the "cement of that extraordinary religious, cultural and civic heritage that has made Europe great down the centuries."

The issue is yet to be debated by the convention.

By Pauline C.