Monday, September 28, 2009

Lisbon Treaty

On Friday next, 2 October, as most of Europe, and large parts of the world are aware, the people of Ireland have to vote for the second time within the space of eighteen months to allow the Irish Government to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon. Why do the Irish people have to vote again? Well, because the answer they gave on the last occasion, rejecting the Treaty, was not the result that the Government and the EU Powers wanted.

The Charter of Fundament Rights, which is part of the Treaty of Lisbon, was described in 2000 by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) as a ‘Godless’ document that would cause ‘moral and social harm’.

Every so often, quotations from the words of Pope Benedict are used to show his approval of the Lisbon Treaty document. So I have decided, therefore, to present some further quotations from the Pope’s addresses on a number of occasions, and hopefully these may give a somewhat more balanced record of what he actually does say on the subject of Europe.. (Certain passages are highlighted to emphasise their content)

‘The “European home”, as we readily refer to the community of this continent, will be a good place to live for everyone only if it is built on a solid cultural and moral foundation of common values drawn from our history and our traditions. Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots. …
‘It was in Europe that the notion of human rights was first formulated. The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right – it is the very opposite. It is “a deep wound in society”, as the late Cardinal Franz Konig never tired of repeating.
‘ … I appeal to political leaders not to allow children to be considered as a form of illness, nor to abolish in practice your legal system’s acknowledgment that abortion is wrong. I say this out of a concern for humanity. But that is only one side of this disturbing problem. The other is the need to do everything possible to make European countries once again open to welcoming children.
Another great concern of mine is the debate on what has been termed “actively assisted death”. It is to be feared that at some point the gravely ill or elderly will be subjected to tacit or even explicit pressure to request death or to administer it to themselves. The proper response to end-of-life suffering is loving care and accompaniment on the journey towards death – especially with the help of palliative care – and not “actively assisted death”.
‘Given the uniqueness of its calling. Europe also has a unique responsibility in the world. First of all, it must not give up on itself. The continent which, demographically, is rapidly aging, must not become old in spirit. …’

[From Address to the Authorities and the Diplomatic Corps, Hofburg, Vienna, September 2007]


‘Unfortunately, from a demographic point of view, one must note that Europe seems to be following a path that could lead to its departure from history. …
‘If, for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the Governments of the Union wish to “get nearer” to their citizens, how can they exclude an element essential to European identity such as Christianity, with which a vast majority of citizens continue to identify? Is it not surprising that today’s Europe, while aspiring to be regarded as a community of values, seems ever more often to deny the very existence of universal and absolute values? Does not this unique form of “apostasy” from itself, even more than its apostasy from God, lead Europe to doubt its own identity? And so the opinion prevails that an “evaluation of the benefits” is the only way to moral discernment and that the common good is synonymous with compromise. In reality, if compromise can constitute a legitimate balance between different particular interests, it becomes a common evil whenever it involves agreements that dishonour human nature. …
‘A community built without respect for the true dignity of the human being, disregarding the fact that every person is created in the image of God ends up doing no good to anyone. For this reason it seems ever more important that Europe be on guard against the pragmatic attitude, widespread today, which systematically justifies compromise on essential human values, as if it were the inevitable acceptance of a lesser evil. … the right to conscientious objection should be protected, every time fundamental human rights are violated.
‘I know how difficult it is for Christians to defend this truth of the human person. Nevertheless do not give in to fatigue or discouragement! You know that it is your duty, with God’s help, to contribute to the consolidation of a new Europe which will be realistic but not cynical, rich in ideals and free from na├»ve illusions, inspired by the perennial and the life-giving truth of the Gospel. Therefore, be actively present in the public debate on a European level, knowing that this discussion is now an integral part of the national debate. And to this commitment add effective cultural action. Do not bend to the logic of power as an end in itself! May Christ’s admonition be a constant stimulus and support for you: “If the salt loses its flavour it is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” (cf. Mt. 5:13). May the Lord make all your efforts fruitful and help you to recognize and use properly what is positive in today’s civilization, while denouncing with courage all that is contrary to human dignity.
‘I am certain that God will bless the generous efforts of all who, in a spirit of service, work to build a common European home where every cultural, social and political contribution is directed towards the common good. To you, already involved in different ways in this important human and evangelical undertaking, I express my support and my most fervent encouragement. …’

[From Address of Pope Benedict XVI to participants in the Convention on 50 years of the Treaty of Rome, organised by COMECE, March 2007]

Had Pope Benedict’s warnings and advice been listened to perhaps the Lisbon Treaty might have been an acceptable document – but, as it stands today, it is not acceptable,