European conscience – Europe’s Christian roots


Might the mention of Christian roots in the European Constitution have thwarted the terrorist attacks of these last months? Or would it have made it easier to pigeonhole them as ‘wars of religion’?   


 Fifteen years have passed since the drafting of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and more than ten since the luckless attempt to write a European Constitution. During the drafting and approval phases of these documents considerable pressure was exerted to include an explicit reference to the continent’s Christian roots. In the Constitutional Treaty, the Italian government in particular suggested that the new constitution should include a reference to Europe’s “Judeo-Christian heritage”, adding a touch of involuntary yet rather grim irony by juxtaposing the Christian religion to one we Europeans almost wiped off the face of the earth just a few decades ago.

Be that as it may, in both cases the issue was resolved in the preamble to the texts thanks to the boundless linguistic creativity of our political scribes. The first stated that, “Conscious of its spiritual and moral heritage, the Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity”. In the second there is instead a general reference to the “the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe”. Ultimately, this was more of a semi-defeat for supporters, rather than a semi-victory.

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