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20 / 06 / 2008 - Vatican Representative says Irish `NO` to Lisbon Treaty Seen as Wake-Up Call
Holy See Representative Says Bloc Needs a Well-Founded Ideal
As European Union member states consider the quandary created by Ireland's "no" vote to the Lisbon Treaty, the Holy See's representative at the Council of Europe says it's a sign that Europe needs to rediscover its roots.
Monsignor Aldo Giordano, named earlier this month as the permanent observer of the Holy See to the Council of Europe, spoke Sunday with Vatican Radio about Ireland's June 12 referendum that put the Treaty of Lisbon in limbo. The treaty needs unanimous approval from the Union's 27 member states for it to go into effect.
The prelate clarified that, although the Church is interested in the European Union's political project in the measure that it contributes to "the greater stability and unity of Europe, in order to contribute also to the rest of the world," interest is focused "on the 'greater Europe' and not only on the nations of the European Union."
"We are interested in the Europe of history, of culture, that Europe which today is able to confront the world," he said. "Europe must rediscover its roots, the foundation of its values. Europe needs an ideal, but this ideal must be well-founded.
"Today, rhetoric empty of values is not enough. We cannot say that Europe works for 'human dignity'; instead, it is a question of seeing concretely what human dignity means, what it's based on and what concrete plans we can pursue to defend this dignity. Otherwise, it runs the risk of being merely empty words."
The Lisbon Treaty was to replace the draft EU constitution, which was rejected by French and Dutch voters in referendums in 2005. It aimed to streamline the European Union, moving it toward majority voting rather than currently-required unanimity. It would also have introduced a European Council president and strengthen the foreign policy department.
With Ireland's "no" vote, however, it is unclear what the European Union will do with the treaty. Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen is set to attend a EU summit in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the issue.
Meanwhile, Monsignor Giordano considered the strength of the Church's voice in Europe, saying that he believes its position on morals "is heard." Still, he affirmed, the key to making the Church's voice stronger is through ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.
"On these important ethical topics, from the question of human life -- from birth to its end -- and the family, but also moral topics such as justice, peace and the environment, I see that the voice of the Church is very much heeded on the part of politics," he said. "Of course, it is not just an issue of being heeded; there is also a critical dimension."
The Churches must come to a consensus among themselves and make a common contribution, the Holy See representative affirmed. And, "there is also the interreligious question, because there is religious pluralism in Europe and we must be able to make proposals or give shared visions also at the level of religions.
"I believe that the more we are united as Christians and as men of religion, the more politics will heed these ethical issues."
Monsignor Giordano said the Church's critics are a minority.
"If we are able to make serious and mature proposals [...] if we are able to offer what is authentic in religions and what is most authentic in Christianity, I believe that it will then be given space," the priest stated. "On the part of those administering the public domain, it would be arrogant to think that they can answer on their own the enormous questions on things such as the meaning of life, coexistence and peace."
Moreover, Europe "must take seriously the challenges of humanity," Monsignor Giordano stressed "We want a Europe that is not keen on becoming a fortress, that looks only at itself, but a Europe that rediscovers its identity, its vocation, because only in this way can it respond to the great challenges of the world.
"I believe that if it became clear that Europe is concerned about the issues of hunger, the environment and peace, it would certainly be a Europe followed by nations and young people, and in which it would be worthwhile to be participants."
Source : Zenit.org