Jewish Professor Defends Mention of Christianity in Euro Text

Joseph Weiler Criticizes "Jacobin Attitude" in Draft of Constitution

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ROME, SEPT. 16, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Joseph Weiler, a practicing Jew and constitutional lawyer of international renown, thinks it is absurd that a future Constitution of the European Union would not mention Christianity.



Weiler, who holds the Jean Monnet Chair at New York University and is director of the Global Law School and New York Center for International and Regional Economic Law and Justice, presented the book he has dedicated to this issue, "A Christian Europe."

He presented the book at the recent meeting in Rimini, organized by the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation and attended by more than 600,000 people.

Weiler considers the absence of references to Christianity in the future Constitution an absurdity. The revised draft presented by the European Convention still must be approved by the countries' governments. Many of the 25 countries that will join the new Europe have adopted Constitutions that contain specific references to Christianity.

"If the German, Irish and Polish Constitutions mention God and the Christian roots, why does the text elaborated by the Convention reflect the French secular model?" Weiler asked.

"Secular is not the synonym of neutral," he said. "The European Constitution, although it preaches cultural pluralism, in reality applies a constitutional imperialism, censuring the opening to religious references present in many state Constitutions."

According to this Jewish constitutional lawyer, the lack of mention of European Christian roots is not a "demonstration of neutrality," but, rather, "a Jacobin attitude."

Weiler also criticized the attitude of Christians, who are incapable of manifesting their convictions publicly, and who banish faith from public life.

"The declaration of one's own identity opens the way to understanding the one who is different," he said. "If I know clearly who I am, I can recognize that you are, and that you are different. There is confusion, not tolerance, in relativism."

The U.S. professor stressed that the mention of Christianity is not an act of intolerance as "the Church proposes the truth of Christ; it does not impose it."

"Tolerance is not where you hide, but where you overcome the temptation of coercion," he added. "This is why an Orthodox Jew can ask Europe not to be afraid of its past and of its own Christian identity. He can invite Europe to value both -- since a Europe which today, because of a badly understood laicism, cancels its own religious roots from the Constitution, tomorrow might be an enemy of the Jewish or Muslim minorities, in the name of that same secular tolerance."