Spanish Bishops Critique Europe's Draft Constitution

Lament the Lack of a Defined Right-to-Life

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MADRID, Spain, FEB. 6, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Spanish bishops' conference published a statement outlining positive and negative aspects of the proposed constitution of the European Union, and urged Catholics to cast a "vote of conscience."



Spain on Feb. 20 will be the first EU member to submit the proposed constitution to a referendum.

The bishops' statement, published Friday, said that its intent was "to offer help to Catholics, and to public opinion in general, in regard to the moral orientation of a responsible vote in conscience," as well as "the many requests received from various sectors of the Catholic community seeking guidance in this respect."

In favor of the text, the bishops stated that the Union will aid "consolidation of peace among the peoples of Europe; social and economic development; more effective cooperation against terrorism and international crime; and the enhancement of the Union's capacity to act in a harmonious way in the world."

Also, the constitution values "the principles of subsidiarity, proportionality and judicial control" and that it recognizes "in accordance with national laws, freedom to create educational centers," as well as the right of parents to educate their children "in keeping with their religious, philosophical and pedagogical convictions."

The bishops highlighted that the constitution mentions "religion as one of the constructive elements of European heritage," and the recognition of "churches as social realities of specific value" with which the union will maintain "an open, transparent and regular dialogue."

Among the negative elements the bishops point out the absence of a clear definition "of such a basic human right as the right to life."

Moreover, the "constitutional text does not exclude lethal research with human embryos, or abortion or euthanasia; neither does it exclude the cloning of human beings for experimentation and therapy," they added.

The prelates also lament that the treaty does not offer an "explicit definition of marriage as the stable union of a man and woman and the protection of the right of children not to be adopted by other types of unions."

Likewise, there is no "explicit recognition of the personal character of the human being," and there is a "deliberate omission of Christianity as one of the living roots of Europe and of its values."