Yes or No on the Euroconstitution? The Debate Lingers
Congress on Catholics and Public Life Airs Arguments
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MADRID, Spain, NOV. 24, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The papal nuncio to the European Parliament doesn't have any reason "from the religious viewpoint" to say no to the Constitutional Treaty, even though the document fails to mention Christianity.
Christian values "remain reflected even if no express mention is made of Christianity," Archbishop Faustino Sáinz told the Veritas agency. His comment came at the Congress on Catholics and Public Life, which closed Sunday.
The European Constitution, which will be voted on in a number of national referendums, was the key debate in virtually all the round-table discussions and forums during the congress.
For his part, José Beneyto, director of the University Institute of European Studies of San Pablo-CEU University, said that in the Church's magisterium "the positive character that surrounds the process of European integration is very clear: recognition of the dignity of the human person, the struggle against terrorism and poverty, cooperation for development, recognition of borders so that radical nationalism will not take place. All this is very positive from the human point of view."
"The Constitution in itself is not something negative," Beneyto added. "The process of integration helps Europe. And by recovering Europe, we recover its history and therefore Christianity. The mission of Christians is, precisely, to help to recover that enormous cultural awareness and spiritual richness."
Dalmacio Negro, a member of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences and professor of political sciences of San Pablo-CEU University, saw things differently.
"The attitude that should be adopted -- and I am now not speaking as a Christian but as a citizen -- is that of the 'no,' because it is not a constitution but a granted charter that the political class deigns to give to citizens," Negro said.
He insisted that it is better that the Christian roots of the continent were not mentioned in the Constitutional Treaty "because it would have been a way of covering up what lies behind, which is an attitude opposed to Christianity."
Europarliamentarian Iñigo Méndez Vigo, who took part in the convention that wrote the Constitution, said he believes that the document "might help Europeans to reach greater levels of prosperity, well-being and security; to have more of a voice in the world; and, above all, to show that the Union is more than a market, that it is a Europe of values."
"We have to weigh the good things and the bad, and I think that the good are more numerous," Méndez added.
The recently dismissed European Commissioner Rocco Buttiglione said: "My impression is that if we do not have this Constitution, it is very difficult to think that we will be able to have a better one."
"It might well be," he added, "that we have a worse one, or that we even don't have one at all, that Europe will become fragmented, and that we will have on one side the Franco-German axis and on the other the hegemony of the United States, by which Europe would lose the occasion to be itself."
For Buttiglione, "if the Constitution obliged us to do something morally wrong, we wouldn't be able to accept it. But this Constitution does not oblige us to do wrong. It does not have all the potential for good desired, but it is the only Constitution we can have at this time."
Alfonso Coronel de Palma, president of the San Pablo-CEU Foundation which organized the congress, stressed that a Christian, "faced with an electoral process of such magnitude, must be well informed, read the text, hear opinions -- because there will be legitimate opinions within the Church that might end in confrontations, as it is a matter of opinion. But, above all, he must cast in conscience a serious, rigorous vote. And I think that, regardless of the decision adopted -- to vote yes, no, or blank -- it is necessary to exercise the right to vote."