In a meeting held Aug. 23 in San Marino entitled "Faith Becomes Culture in the Political Realm," the Association of the Europe Foundation was presented as a means to counteract anti-Catholic sentiment in European political environments.
The discussion formed part of the Meeting of Friendship Among Peoples in Rimini, Italy, organized by the movement Communion and Liberation, Aug. 20-26.
Giorgio Salina, president of the new association, said that the organization has arisen after witnessing a certain animosity against Catholics in the European Parliament.
He gave as an example Rocco Buttiglione's failed attempt to run for European Commissioner of Justice, which many attribute to his public expression of Christian convictions on topics such as marriage and homosexuality.
Salina said: "It must be clear to all that Buttiglione was rejected because he is a Catholic, and for no other reason! A Catholic was not wanted in that office, with those responsibilities.
"This shows the widespread and manifest hostility that Christian culture -- considered a subculture -- meets within European institutions, specifically, in Parliament."
"Moreover," added Salina, "two months later, in the Commission of Constitutional Affairs, two English deputies, Richard Corbett and Andrew Duff, proposed revising the procedure of assessment and approval of the commissioners because a serious error had been committed: A man was judged for his ideas, and not for his program, and this is gravely contrary to the European Charter of fundamental rights."
Salina, who is also the vice president of the Convention of Christians for Europe, said that association will meet once or twice a year with deputies, Christians and those sensitive to Christian, national and European values.
The association will be accredited to European institutions and take part in public sessions, presenting its own position, in full accord with the social doctrine of the Church, and will cooperate with those European deputies who share these values.
The association will promote mention of the Christian heritage in the Preamble of the European Constitutional Treaty, which for the time being is at a standstill.
Also present at the meeting were Bishop Luigi Negri of San Marino-Montefeltro, director of the John Paul II Foundation, and Mario Mauro, vice president of the European Parliament.
Mauro highlighted the importance of the foundation's mission of building a Christian identity in Europe, since "without awareness of a specific identity, every face-to-face meeting is insignificant and useless for any one who carries it out."