French Criticize Omission of Christianity From Euro Text

Even Defenders of Laicism Object to the Silence

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PARIS, JUNE 12, 2003 (ZENIT.org-Avvenire).- Even a "laicist" France is raising its voice against the omission of Christianity in the early draft preamble of the future European Constitution.



The text of the draft, presented May 28, referred to the "cultural, religious and humanist heritage of Europe," which it said was "initially nourished by the Greek and Roman civilizations," and "later by the philosophical currents of the Enlightenment." The text was updated this week but still omits mention of Christianity.

Political commentator Bernard Guetta, of the weekly newspaper L'Express and of Radio France-Nanterre, followed the work of the European Convention, which is writing the draft.

"When the debate began on the Christian roots of Europe," Guetta said, "I immediately said that the Constitutional Charter of the EU should also contain a reference to the laicist heritage of the Enlightenment."

"I see that the Enlightenment is mentioned in the preamble, but Christianity is missing," he added. "As an impenitent atheist I declare that I do not agree: It is an insult to the intelligence. Not to mention the Christian heritage of Europe means to deny historical evidence."

Jean De Belot, director of the newspaper Le Figaro, explained that France "is governed by the dogma of laicism, seen as a guarantee of civil peace."

"It has always been raised as a wall against Catholics," he said. "Except that now they realize that laicism is threatened not by the Church but by Islam. It is really striking."

French academic Jean-Marie Rouart writes: "We should not continue to abusively oppose laicism to Christianity. The separation between temporal powers and religion does not nullify history, the weight of tradition, sensibility."

"In its genetic patrimony, France has religious imprints that have permeated us much more than we imagine," he concluded.