IHEU member organization Libre Penséé has issued a statement on the Berlin Declaration, which was signed on 25 March 2007 by Hans-Gert Pöttering as President of the European Parliament, Angela Merkel as President of the Council of the European Union (and the European Council) and José Manuel Durão Barroso as President of the European Commission.
FEDERATION NATIONALE DE LA LIBRE PENSEE
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From Rome to Berlin: still a Vatican Europe
After the earth-shattering rejection of the European Constitutional Treaty in 2005, we are currently experiencing a new attempt to impose a new constitutional avatar on the peoples of Europe. On 25 March, 2007, Angela Merkel presented a Declaration of the 27 EU Member States to relaunch the “constitutional process” to be implemented by 2009.
On the same day, Pope Benedict XVI launched an appeal in Rome: “…do not tire and do not be discouraged! You know that you have the task of contributing with God’s help to the building of a ‘New Europe”… A press release (Zenit) issued: “Europe must be aware of its own Christian roots and of the public role of religion: such is the message from the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) which gathered in Rome on 23-25 March, with more than 400 participants”
One day, a famous man said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. Clearly, the same scenario as in 2005 is being played once again. The Vatican, alongside with a few others, are going to strongly campaign and demand a reference to God and Christianity in the preamble of the draft of the European Constitution. They are going to draw the attention of public opinions
But, like in 2005, the deeply clerical content of the Constitution won’t be in the preamble but rather within the Constitution itself. Let’s remind that Article 70 provided the possibility to express religious practice and denomination in the public sphere. And that Article 52 gave important privileges to the Churches.
Therefore, it seems clear that the absence of any reference to God or Christianity in the Declaration of Berlin does not mean in the least that this future Constitution won’t be clerical. In 2005, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, one of the main leaders of COMECE, unveiled the manoeuvre: “The preamble of the European Constitution is not the main issue. What is the preamble ? It is a foreword. The substance of the Constitution is what is written in the Constitution and I am very pleased to say that the fundamental options of the Constitution are good and acceptable from a Christian point of view.”
Once again, they are going to entertain the audience in Europe on the issue of the preamble in order to make religious domination more acceptable in the Constitution itself. Moreover, a complementary manoeuvre is beginning to take shape at the Council of Europe. Mr Van der Linden, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said in a speech at Nizhniy Novgorod, on 7 September, 2006: “The political and legal action of the Council of Europe must be reinforced by co-operation with churches and other confessional organisations… there is absolutely no reason why churches and other confessional organisations should not have an official status with the Council of Europe similar to that which we have granted to non-governmental organisations, but taking into account Churches’ specific conditions.
“In this respect, we can take inspiration from the Treaty of the European Union establishing a Constitution for Europe, which has stressed the role of churches and religious organisations in contributing to the process of European integration and the need for granting them an official status in recognition of their important contribution…”
As usual, the Vatican has two strategies. Through the European Union or through the Council of Europe a Vatican Europe is still marching on. The French Libre Pensee calls upon Freethinkers, secularists and Humanists not to chase rainbows. In every country in Europe, let’s watch out and be ready for mobilisation against a Vatican Europe.
For the absolute freedom of conscience with the separation between religions and the States !
For secularism in Europe !
Let’s work together !
Paris, 8 April, 2007