European bishops call for inclusion of Christian principles in Europe

EU Parliament The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. | Credit: JLogan via Wikimedia/ Public Domain

European bishops this week called on the institutions of the European Union to embrace greater state-church dialogue and on parliamentary candidates to include Christian principles in their political programs ahead of the bloc’s elections in June. 

Stressing the importance of participatory democracy and the involvement of citizens in the decision-making process of European affairs, the statement bemoaned what it saw as the political and institutional marginalization of Christian voices. 

“We distinctly noticed that a large proportion of citizens, who confidently look at the European future through the prism of Christian values, now feel marginalized, as they do not have the opportunity to express their positions and opinions in an autonomous and distinct way,” the bishops said in their March 20 statement.

“We also notice the exclusion of any appropriate reference to Christian values in relevant EU texts,” the bishops said. 

The March 20 joint statement was signed by the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), the Conference of European Churches, the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, and Together for Europe ahead of the European parliamentary elections that will take place from June 6–9.

The election, which is held every five years, will be an opportunity for citizens from the 27 EU member states to elect a total of 720 members of the European Parliament (MEPS), representing an estimated 448.4 million people. 

The statement from the bishops highlighted the myriad challenges that the bloc faces, ranging from an energy crisis, sluggish economic growth, and common security risks as well as the migrant crisis and Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine. 

​​“These challenges,” the statement continued, “are accompanied by a broader crisis of values in the European area, which calls into question democratic principles and institutions.” 

The signatories called on parliamentary candidates to promote Christian values in their political manifestos and electoral campaigns. They also stressed the importance of the European Union institutions to “recognize Christian values as a main foundation of the European project” in line with the provisions outlined in Article 17 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

The bishops also raised concerns of political “polarization” and the “instrumentalization” of religious values to advance political objectives and “ethno-racial narratives,” an apparent slight to right-wing leaders across Europe. 

“Insecurity and fear dominate a large part of citizens’ views on the future of Europe and the world,” the statement continued. That fear “motivates some of them to seek solutions and spiritual support in an objectified and instrumentalized version of tradition, sometimes disguised as an appeal to ‘traditional values.’”

“In such cases, the concepts of ‘homeland’ and ‘religion’ are weaponized, and dubious historical figures are turned into heroes.” 

The bishops in their March 20 letter argued that Christian values, which are “shared by a large part of European citizens,” can serve as a firewall against the internal and external challenges of the European Union.

“Precisely in this preelection period, we, as Christians, express our willingness to ensure a substantial and in-depth political dialogue that would also be an opportunity to express our firm commitment to European values and the EU acquis,” the statement said.

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