European bishops have created a group, called Group of the Sages whose main task would be to prepare a report about the European common values. This step though might provoke serious debate about the necessity of including Christianity in the texts of the European constitution. The constitution is now frozen because of the reflection period given after the "no" referenda on France and the Netherlands. Many of you probably remember that during the Convent for the European constitution Poland insisted the Christianity and its values to be included in the text because these values are exactly what unites us in Europe.
This idea caused vicious disputes then and at the end an agreement was reached the word "Christianity" not to be included in the preamble of the Constitution. Instead you can read there about the "cultural, religious and human heritage in Europe". The Group of the Sages met for the first time on Monday (11th of September) by the initiative of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community. An interesting fact is that the Group of men and women consists of catholics only, including ex-members of the European Commission like Mario Monti, Franz Fischler and Loyola de Palacio.
In the group also take part Jacques Santer - ex-president of the Commission and Pat Cox - ex-president of the European Parliament. The report of the Group of the Sages must be ready by March 2007 when is the 50-th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundation of the European Union of today. What made it necessary such a report of the common European values to be prepared I asked Stefan Lunte, assistant secretary general of the COMECE.
Stefan Lunte: We are with the impression that beside the institutional crisis there is a crisis of values in the European Union - citizens do not see anymore the values which lay behind the European project as such and that is why we decided to help the political process, to help politicians to find a way out of the institutional crisis. We wanted to create another process of the civil society and the Church is part of it.
euinside: Do you think that recovering the common values would help for deepening the integration of the Union which is also a serious matter?
Stefan Lunte: Definitely. Courageous steps are required from politicians to move the European project forward but to be courageous it is necessary to have a context, an atmosphere in which citizens will agree with the need of bringing together of all nations and states in the European Union. Because this leads to stability, peace in Europe, because it helps overcome even social and economic problems. That is why it is very important for us to insist and underline the values which are in the basis of the European Project.
euinside: It is very interesting that only catholics are included in this initiative. Why?
Stefan Lunte: I think that because we want to contribute to what we hope to turn to a wider discussion. It is understandable that you will first turn to the people of your own community. But, later is won't be a problem for us to open for wider religious participation.
euinside: In the Group take part some ex-members of the European Commission. What do you think they could help you with?
Stefan Lunte: We decided that they have long experience in the European Commission, they were in the European institution and have really good expertise at European level so we hope that we can use their experience to overcome the difficulties which the European project encounters.