Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 05:29:32 AM EST
German chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested Europe needs a constitution that makes reference to Christianity and God following her audience with Pope Benedict XVI on Monday (29 August).
"We spoke about freedom of religion," Ms Merkel told journalists following the 45-minute meeting.
Did you decide whether it was a good or a bad thing?
She added "I underlined my opinion that we need a European identity in the form of a constitutional treaty and I think it should be connected to Christianity and God, as Christianity has forged Europe in a decisive way," according to press reports.
As has Europe forged Christianity. Mostly through the influence of its pagan past. Oh, and we should include references to absolute monarchy, discrimination against women and anti-semitism, all of which have also forged Europe in decisive ways.
The Christian Democrat leader has previously spoken out in favour of reopening the debate on religion in the constitution as the EU considers how to tackle the deadlock after the treaty's rejection by French and Dutch voters last year.
We'll fix the controversy by making it more controversial. That'll work! While we're at it why don't we include a ban on abortion?
During earlier negotiations on the content of the new EU charter, Spain, Italy and Poland were among the strongest supporters of a reference to God in the treaty.
But its opponents argued it could prove controversial in view of Turkey's potential membership of the EU as well as due to the strict separation of state and church in some countries, such as France.
I imagine that's considered a feature, not a bug.
I don't mind so much the religious references that are in the existing legal structures of existing countries and that have accreted there over the history of the states but the idea of adding an explicit religious reference into a modern constitution like this makes me angry. It's unnecessary, it's divisive and it's an insult to every non-Christian European.
* That would be the Christian god, if you don't mind.
Currently, the preamble refers to Europe's religious heritage only in general terms.
"Drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, the values of which, still present in its heritage, have embedded within the life of society the central role of the human person and his or her inviolable and inalienable rights, and respect for law," it states.