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Religion and the future of Europe - Autumn Plenary Meeting 2002



Religion and the future of Europe - Autumn Plenary Meeting 2002

Press Release - 29 November 2002 COMECE Bishops called for the European Union to recognise the specific contribution of religion in defining the values of the new Europe at their Autumn Plenary Meeting in Brussels on 28-29 November.

In a meeting with Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, on Friday 29 November, the Bishops explained their hopes from the European Convention: "Our proposals are about supporting a European Union that serves the citizens, not about defending privileges. The priority for us is that a European constitution should protect the dignity of the human person and serve the common good. People in Europe must be able to identify themselves with this constitution - social cohesion in the new Europe therefore depends on its vision of the human person. The future constitution should make clear that the EU promotes and protects the fundamental rights of its citizens and as such is a community of values. It would be unimaginable not to recognise the dynamic contribution of Europe's religious heritage in defining those values. Recognising in the future EU constitution the fact that, for many Europeans from various religious traditions, the source of universal values is our faith in God, would provide a point of identification for people, and should not exclude anyone." The Bishops discussed with Mr Prodi their proposals for a structured dialogue between the European Union institutions and the Churches and other religious communities. They also welcomed the forthcoming accession of ten new Member States to the European Union. They will issue a statement on this issue on 6 December 2002 in view of the EU summit in Copenhagen. The Bishops also emphasised the importance of a broad debate about bio-ethical issues at the EU level, such as the funding of research on embryonic stem cells. During the Plenary Meeting, the Bishops also launched a discussion paper on sustainable agriculture in Europe (see annex), to which they invited Bishops' Conferences and Catholic movements to respond. ENDS NOTE: Due to the illness of a number of the voting members of COMECE, it was not possible to reach a quorum for the elections for the Presidium (foreseen at this Plenary Meeting). The election has therefore been postponed to the Spring Plenary Meeting on 27-28 March 2003 and the mandate of the current Presidium has been extended until this date.

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