When Catholics give up their identity

Wlodzimierz Redzioch talks to Giorgio Salina, working as an expert in the Apostolic Nunciature at the European Union

On 28 February the Manifesto of the Group 'Christian Initiatives for Europe' (IXE) was presented in Brussels. The Group is made up of representatives of various movements and European organisations that call themselves Christians. Therefore, the Manifesto was publicly presented as Christians' contribution to the discussion about the European Union on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community. Unfortunately, this widely promoted document, which is to be published in mass media in all European countries, is disappointing: it is too general, 'politically correct' and first of all it lacks reference to Christian values. Because of that many Catholic circles, including the Cardinal Van Thuân International Observatory for the Social Doctrine of the Church presided by Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, have criticised the Manifesto.
I have asked Giorgio Salina, expert in the Nunciature at the EU and President of the Association for the Foundation of Europe, to comment on this document.

WLODZIMIERZ REDZIOCH: - Why was the Manifesto of the Group 'Christian Initiatives for Europe' (IXE) treated so coolly in many Catholic circles?

GIORGIO SALINA: - Reading this long Manifesto I asked myself a question: Have Christians got anything else to say about Europe or must they rather adjust to politically correct Europeism? There would be no sense to speak about the Manifesto if it were not the signatures of the outstanding personalities, commencing with Michel Camdessus, former chairman of the International Monetary Fund and now the President of the French Social Weeks (he actually initiated the Manifesto). Thomas Jansen, representing the Central Committee of German Catholics, also signed the document. In total, 13 various European Catholic organisations signed the Manifesto (including Piotr Cywinski and Henryk Wozniakowski from Poland).

- What do you not like in the Manifesto?

- Firstly, what strikes me is its general character and, I would say, certain banality. The document is full of set phrases such as solidarity, freedom, constant development, usage of military potential only for defence reasons, more humanitarian immigration politics, etc. Considering nihilism, which dominates in Europe and which is promoted by the European institutions as well, the most urgent problem for Christians, and not only for them, should be reasonable evaluation of reality, following the method that Benedict XVI presented at the University of Regensburg ('challenge of reason').
The Manifesto ignored three 'questions that cannot be negotiated', which the Pope stressed very much: life, family and upbringing. Can we ignore the fact that the European Union has become a synonym for the culture of death because it has been involved in promoting abortion and secularism as well as breaking down families in and outside of Europe?

- Could you remind us of these three questions that cannot be negotiated, which the Pope spoke about?

- The Holy Father helped us understand what these three important questions that serve the good of every man and all people are, namely:
1) human life - is a gift of God and must be protected and respected from the moment of conception to natural death;
2) family based on marriage between man and woman - is the form that God chose to ensure the continuity of human race and that fulfils the deep desires of human heart: love, solidarity and awareness of human identity;
3) father and mother have the right to bring up their children and pass them the system of values and show them sense of life; the state and its institutions must guarantee families the possibility to use this right. Unfortunately, today some EU members undermine these principles. Suffice to mention 'the right' to abortion, 'the right' to euthanasia, equality of homosexual partners and families to adopt children, certain politics concerning education and upbringing promoted by public institutions. Although the Pope acknowledges the mediatory role of politics he defined the three fundamental issues as 'questions that cannot be negotiated.'

- The problem is that opposing abortion and defending family have become risky. On 1 March, during the meeting of the EU ministers of education in Heidelberg Roman Giertych, Deputy Prime Minister, said that 'abortion is evil that should be prohibited' and that 'homosexual propaganda harms social morality and destroys family, which is a relationship between a woman and a man' (which is in accordance with the teaching of the Church). The left-wing and liberal politicians, the politically correct media and the homosexual circles, and what is worse some Catholic politicians, who feared social consequences of such statements, and some clergymen who want to 'be progressive', brought accusation against Mr. Giertych...

- Minister Giertych is in good company: during one of the numerous discussions concerning homophobia, conducted in the European Parliament, Benedict XVI was also accused of creating a cultural base for those who persecuted and oppressed homosexuals. They all remind Catholics that they are not alone in the society and they must consider other people's opinions. In a word, we must 'be tolerant'. However, why should 'tolerance' let us make choices harmful for the society? Why nobody wants to 'be tolerant' towards Catholics?
Coming back to the Manifesto I ask myself the question why the document, which is supposed to be Christians' contribution to the discussion about Europe, does not mention the right of all cultures, including the Christian culture, to equal dignity before institutions? In fact, the Christian culture is refused that right. Suffice to mention that the members of the UN plenary session voted a resolution to bring the case of John Paul II to the court of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accusing him of breaking human rights. In total the United Nations has reprimanded the Catholic Church for violating human rights over 20 times! (by comparison China has been condemned only 15 times and Cuba ruled by Castro - 7 times). For four years a majority of voters of the European Parliament authorised its delegation to propose abortion as a fundamental human right during the UN sessions. Has the European Parliament taken one decision concerning ethical issues that was in accordance with the Christian culture and Christian vision of man? The Manifesto has not mentioned another important issue - the principle of auxiliarity. How can one ignore the issue of auxiliarity between institutions and living organisms of the society, which are free associations of citizens? The matter is urgent since one can take not of more and more EU top-down interventions of the central institutions, which suppresses the freedom of man.
Finally, I would like to express my hope that no one else would sign this 'politically correct' document. It would be dangerous if Christians, especially Catholics, were involved in building common Europe by giving up their own identity.

"Niedziela" 14/2007

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl