July/August 2004 Church & State | AU Bulletin

The European Union's initial approval of a new secular constitution did not sit well with Pope John Paul II.

On June 18, the leaders of the EU, which includes 25 nations, agreed on a constitution made up of nearly 350 articles but with no mention of God. The Vatican has lobbied to include a reference to God or Christianity.

France, Belgium, Finland and other members opposed the religious reference on grounds that it would undermine the Union's commitment to the separation of church and state.

During noon prayer on June 20, Pope John Paul II thanked countries that supported the Vatican position and declared that, "You don't cut off the roots from which you have grown."

The EU constitution must still be ratified by the 25 member nations.

A spokesman for the Vatican said the pope was compelled "to express regret over the opposition of some governments to the explicit recognition of Europe's Christian roots," the Religion News Service reported.

"This is a denial of historical evidence and of the Christian identity of the European peoples," the Vatican official said.