Politics

European Churches Lament ‘Exclusion’ of Christianity in E.U. Texts

ROME — The Catholic bishops of Europe along with other Christian leaders have criticized the omission of references to the continent’s Christian roots and core values as EU elections approach.

In a joint declaration, the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, the Conference of European Churches, and the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, stated that “a large proportion” of Christian citizens now “feel marginalized” as they do not have any way to express their positions in an autonomous and distinct way.

We notice the “exclusion of any appropriate reference to Christian values in relevant EU texts,” the leaders declared. “This is a clear indication that the importance of the Christian tradition as the ‘milieu’ in which today’s European values were established is being overlooked.”

Precisely in this pre-election period, “we, as Christians, express our willingness to ensure a substantial and in-depth political dialogue,” the declaration states.

In conclusion, the Christian leaders reaffirm their commitment to working together “to promote a positive European agenda that takes its inspiration from Christian values.”

We call the political groups of the European Institutions, the political parties and MEP candidates to recognize “Christian values as a main foundation of the European project,” they state, and to establish an “open, transparent and regular dialogue with churches and religious associations.”

They also call on the European Union to promote Christian values “in the political programmes and pre-election campaigns.”

Confusion in recent year’s regarding Christianity’s foundational role in the definition of Europe has furnished an opportunity for historians and other scholars to clarify this important reality.

In 2016, at the height of Europe’s immigration crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel caused consternation by downplaying the uniqueness of Christianity in Germany’s history and proposing that Islam, too, “belongs to Germany” and to German culture.

That year, Robert D. Kaplan published his important Atlantic article “How Islam Created Europe,” in which he reminded readers that Europe — unlike other continents — was ultimately defined by its Christian identity, in opposition to Islam.

While other continents were defined by rivers, seas, oceans, and mountains, Europe’s identity was essentially religious, rather than geographical, determined by the borders of Christendom.

As the expression “Christian Europe” suggests, Europeans came to see themselves as part of an entity that was, like the Islamic world, defined in religious terms. Quoting the 1957 book, Europe: The Emergence of an Idea, Kaplan noted that “European unity began with the concept … of a Christendom in ‘inevitable opposition’ to Islam.”

For Europe’s leaders to deny or gloss over this reality is an injustice to Christians and to history itself. Europe’s proclamation of the dignity of every human person and its understanding of the family and society itself are inconceivable apart from the Christian humus from which they emerged.



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