.- The debate to include Christianity in a new treaty text for the European Union may by spurred by the creation a new high-profile group of Catholic thinkers. The "group of wise men and women", which held its first meeting Sept. 11, was commissioned by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community to draft a report on the EU's common values.
The debate was recently re-ignited by Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, who made a plea for including "God" in a new EU treaty text.
The Catholic group includes three members of the previous European Commission — Mario Monti, Franz Fischler and Loyola de Palacio — as well as Jacques Santer, who led the EU executive commitee from 1995 to 1999, former European Parliament president Pat Cox, and former Belgian ambassador to the EU, Philippe de Schoutheete, reported the EU Observer.
De Schoutheete said the aim of the project is to raise awareness among the public of European values which can be linked to the Christian faith, such as peace, freedom, a rejection of extreme nationalism, solidarity, respect for diversity, and subsidiarity.
Currently, De Schoutheete said, most people are "totally ignorant or unaware" that there is "something more" to the EU than the single market or agricultural policy, reported the EU Observer.
However, he added, the group is not a fresh Catholic attempt to get "God" into a new EU treaty text as such. "We have no mandate to draft a constitution or a preamble of a constitution," he was quoted as saying.
The text of the EU constitution was put on hold after French and Dutch voters rejected it last year. It does not include a reference to Christianity, despite strong lobbying by the European bishops.