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Christianity and EU

Now that more nations have joined the EU, the Pope thinks he has more souls to harvest

“Only a Europe that does not remove, but rediscovers its Christian roots will reach the stature needed for the great challenges of the third millennium: peace, dialogue between cultures and religions, the safeguarding of creation,” he said. He has repeatedly called for bloc to enshrine Christianity in its constitution, but this has been resisted by secular politicians. Earlier, in a sign of his growing concern with the secularization of society, the pope warned 26 new priests it would be hard to convince people God was still important in a materialistic world.

The Pope has a reason to get concerned as the religion is on the decline in Europe

Church attendance has dwindled by more than 30% in Britain since 1980. Over the same period, the percentage of the population claiming membership in a religious denomination has dropped more than 20% in Belgium, 18% in the Netherlands and 16% in France. Christianity remains Europe’s main religion, with about 550 million adherents. But the number of Europeans who identify as Catholic ? by far the biggest denomination on the Continent ? has fallen by more than a third since 1978.

Most European countries no longer have state religions, and there’s pressure to disestablish in Britain and Norway, two that still do. The crucifix has long since been taken down from public schoolhouse walls; today’s argument is about whether teachers ? or students ? should be allowed to wear the Muslim veil. That’s a reminder that Europe has good reasons to make the Christian God a little harder to find. In a pluralist society that takes pains not to exclude any religion or culture ? and now includes more than 37 million Muslims ? the days of Christianity as the “official” religion should be over.

The new EU Constitution is still being trashed out behind closed doors and one of issues that is being discussed is: Should the constitution have a reference to God ? Or should it just talk about Christian values ?

With many countries having large muslim population and Turkey thinking about joining the EU, any reference to Christianity explicitly may cause problems.

2 Responses to Christianity and EU

  1. Niraj May 2, 2004 at 3:03 pm #

    Another excellent post! It will be interesting what these new members will have on the EU, specially on religion. It is well known that Eastern Europeans are devoutly religious, more so then Western Europeans.

  2. L. May 3, 2004 at 1:27 am #

    In fact this has turned out to be one of the major obstacles in adapting the EU constitution (the other issue is the # of votes that each member gets). It is not only the eastern bloc that wants Christianity (e.g. Poland) to be included but also western countries like Spain and even Italy to some extent. Germany is ambivalent and France opposes any mention on religion.

    BTW, it’ll take a while (10-15 yrs) for Turkey to get in the “club” if it happens.

    L.

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