Moscow Patriarchate Wants Religion Included in European Constitution

Metropolitan Kirill Addresses Letter to Giscard d'Estaing

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MOSCOW, FEB. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate joined the majority of European churches in requesting the inclusion of a reference to the continent's Christian heritage in the future Constitutional Treaty.



Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, responsible for the patriarchate's foreign relations, last Friday wrote an open letter to this effect, addressed to Valery Giscard d'Estaing, president of the Presidium of the Convention on the Future of the European Union.

In his letter, the metropolitan mentions that the first 16 articles of the Constitutional Treaty were presented this month (they may be consulted at http://european-convention.eu.int).

A press statement of the Moscow Patriarchate's Foreign Relations Department stressed that the values mentioned in the text of the treaty are based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of 2000. The latter makes no reference to religious values and their meaning in the social and cultural development of European nations.

According to Metropolitan Kirill, the draft of the Constitutional Treaty should include "a reference to the Christian heritage of the European Union, as well as other religious traditions and secular thoughts and ideas."

He also urged "a provision on the mechanism of consultation between the European institutions and religious communities of the European Union," and "a provision on the prerogative of the EU member-states in regulating the religious sphere."

The fate of European believers is the primary concern of the churches in adopting an active position in the discussion on the plan of the Constitutional Treaty, the metropolitan emphasized.

In a special statement, the Russian Orthodox Church had already expressed its opinion on the work of the European Convention. It did so through the Conference of European Churches, of which it is a permanent member.

Metropolitan Kirill continues: "We have found many ideas" that are in harmony with "our position, in the statements made by the Orthodox Church of Greece, the Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, the Evangelical Church of Germany, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and many other churches and communities."

According to the metropolitan's letter, the values laid in "the foundation of the European Union will serve as a starting point for the domestic life of its member countries" and for the Union's relations with its neighbors.

The above is the reason why the "Russian Orthodox Church has been interested in the elaboration of a document, which very soon will determine the life of many countries in Europe, including its Orthodox population," he stressed.

"Certainly, the values fixed in the project, such as human dignity, freedom, supremacy of law, tolerance, justice and solidarity are not alien to Christian morals. However, they are disputable to the faithful if not linked with concrete moral values," the metropolitan continued.

A "Europe that renounces religion, and especially Christianity as one of its fundamental life-giving forces, cannot become a fatherland for many people who live in it," warned Metropolitan Kirill.