Catholic Church reminds EU that Lisbon Treaty gives it arm-twisting status

Cathoilc Bishops

The Lisbon Treaty came into effect this week, and first to celebrate was the Catholic Bishops Conference (COMECE) which issued a press release reminding EU members that religious groups — particularly the Vatican — are coming to claim the privileges that the Treaty promises them.

The Press Release says: “The Treaty introduces into EU primary law an Article of notable importance for the Churches. By means of Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the EU recognises the identity and specific contribution of Churches and engages on this basis an ‘open, transparent and regular’ dialogue with them. Thanks to this Article, Churches and religious communities will be able to strengthen their Dialogue with the European Commission, Council and Parliament and so contribute more efficiently to reflecting on European policy. Inspired by Catholic social teaching and strengthened by their background experience, Churches will be enabled to pursue a critical and constructive Dialogue with EU decision makers on the policies put forward by the EU. ...”

COMECE tries to soften the threatening tone of the press release by talking about “promotion of dignity” and “solidarity with the weakest” and “intercultural dialogue”. There is no mention yet of restricting abortion rights or attacking the human rights of homosexuals – although inevitably these will be the real targets in the EU of COMECE and its reactionary religious allies.

The Churches admit that the EU has been behaving for some time as though the Lisbon Treaty was already in effect and the “official dialogue” has been taking place for several years. But now they say: “COMECE calls on Churches and Christians all over Europe to seize this dialogue opportunity, based on their expertise and their humanity, to make a contribution to the European project. COMECE, together with its ecumenical partners from CEC (Conference of European Churches), will make soon specific proposals to the European Commission, Parliament and Council on how to develop this dialogue into regular institutional practice.”

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said: “This is probably the most sinister document I have read for some time; the soothing words about care for the poorest and concern for the environment are just window dressing. It gives clear warning that the Catholic Church intends to insinuate the Vatican’s hard-line Catholic doctrine right to the heart of Europe, despite the fact that even among Catholics, only a small minority subscribe to it. Women, gay people and the non-religious should be very worried by this, especially given the appointment of a reportedly zealous new Catholic President.”