First Bills of EU Constitution Drafted – Pope Renews Appeal for Inclusion of God

Feb 18, 2003 06:53 PM EST

VATICAN CITY – One week after the European Union’s panel on the constitution drafted the first outline of articles on the EU constitution, Pope John Paul issued his second appeal to include the continent’s “Christian heritage” as part of its constitution.

The contentious debate of whether the EU’s first constitution should mention God by name or define European values as including “those who believe in God as the source of truth, justice, good and beauty,” had sparked the interest of Pope John Paul before.

In his first appeal, Nov. 2002, the Pope asked that the "cement of that extraordinary religious, cultural and civic heritage that has made Europe great down the centuries" be remembered in drafting the articles.

On his renewed appeal, Feb. 16, the Pope contended that the recognition of God in the constitution will in no way diminish the secular nature of the European Union.

``On the contrary, it will help guard the continent against the double risk of ideological secularism, on the one hand, and sectarian integralism on the other,'' the pope said in his weekly appearance in St. Peter's Square.

The Pope also cited two ninth century saints, Ciril and Metod, who he said brought about a Chrisitan and Byzantine influence on the European culture/

``Precisely for this it has been asked that the future European Union constitutional treaty not leave out this common patrimony of the East and the West,'' he said. ``Such a reference would not take away from the just secularness of the political structures.''

The EU constitution is expected to be the most important redistributuion of power in Europe since World War II. The articles will define the values, objectives, powers and the fundamental rights of EU nationals. The constitution is expected to be adopted as early as December 2003; The European Convention will add amendments and other changes to the drafts over the year.

By Paulina C.