EU hostility to religion may have cause Lisbon to fail

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Top Irish churchman says EU attitude to religion may have led Irish voters to reject the Lisbon Treaty.

25 August 2008

DUBLIN -- EU hostility to religion may have led Ireland's voters to deliver a shock rejection of the bloc's key reform treaty in June, the country's most senior Roman Catholic churchman said on Sunday.

Voters in the predominantly Roman Catholic country sent shockwaves through the European Union when 53 percent of them rejected the Lisbon Treaty in the only popular vote on the text anywhere in the 27-nation bloc.

Addressing a summer school in the west of the country, Cardinal Sean Brady, Primate of All-Ireland, said the referendum result suggested "at least some of those who were previously enthusiastic about the founding aims of the EU, both social and economic, are now expressing unease".

He said one reason influencing some Christians may be what the late Pope John Paul II described as the "loss of Christian memory" in European institutions and policy.

"Successive decisions... have undermined the family based on marriage, the right to life from the moment of conception to natural death, the sacredness of the Sabbath, the right of Christian institutions to maintain and promote their ethos, including schools.

"These and other decisions have made it more difficult for committed Christians to maintain their instinctive commitment to the European project," Brady said.

"Ignoring this trend within the EU and its impact on people of faith has inevitable political and social consequences, not least on levels of support for the project itself."

Brady said there was a "fairly widespread culture" in European affairs which relegates manifestations of one's own religious convictions to the purely private sphere.

He said such an approach ends up with Christians being denied the right to intervene in public debates on issues such as stem-cell research, the status of same-sex unions, the primacy of the family based on marriage and the culture of life.

"The prevailing culture and social agenda within the EU would at least appear to be driven by the secular tradition rather than by the Christian memory and heritage of the vast majority of member states."

Eurosceptics in Ireland and elsewhere claim the Lisbon treaty is little more than a mildly tweaked version of the previous EU constitution, torpedoed by French and Dutch voters in referendums in 2005.

Prime Minister Brian Cowen is due to travel to Paris in September for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on a possible way out of the crisis that has left the bloc in limbo.

EU leaders are set to discuss the Irish rejection again at an October summit in an effort to overcome the impasse ahead of elections next year to the European Parliament.

[AFP / Expatica]

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