A Day of Infamy or Glory?
June 12 could go down in history as the date when Europe officially lost the Faith.
That is not to say that the continent is currently a paladin of Catholic virtue. However, on that date Ireland will vote on whether or not to accept the European Union’s (EU) new version of a constitution, called the Treaty of Lisbon. This document refuses to recognize Europe’s Catholic roots and would finish with whatever governmental vestiges of Christian civilization still remain.
EU officials are eager to push the plan ahead. In 2005, France and the Netherlands rejected a constitution that was at least 90% the same as the “treaty” now proposed. Since even little children catch on quickly to parents trying to present the same Brussels Sprouts in different ways, officials cannot hope to force feed the same constitution to the people of Europe a third time.
However, EU guidelines still require unanimity among member states to ratify the treaty-constitution. Since only Ireland requires a public referendum before signing on, the constitution’s ratification will be decided by how the Irish vote on June 12. Ireland will be the voice of those who have no voice.
But what is it that makes the Treaty of Lisbon so bad and why is it so necessary that the Irish defeat it? The American TFP’s Irish sister organization, Irish Society for Christian Civilization, has compiled the answer to this question in a 14-page document titled: “Nine Reasons Why a Conscientious Catholic Citizen Should Reject the Treaty of Lisbon in the Upcoming Referendum.”1
The document succinctly presents some of the horrors contained in the new constitution and gives sufficient reason for any practicing Catholic to vote no on June 12.
Below is a summary of the document’s nine points:
1. Betraying Its Christian Past
Similar to the former defeated constitution, the Treaty of Lisbon has no mention of God or the Christian roots of Europe. The very preamble states:
from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, from which have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.
However, even a grade school student knows that European values were developed from the Catholic Church, which built Christian civilization out of the barbarian tribes that inhabited Europe.
This omission has further-reaching consequences than the denial of historic truth. As John Paul II expressed on the occasion of the 1200th anniversary of the coronation of Charlemagne, while discussing the Charter of Fundamental Rights:
The Church has followed the drafting of this document with keen attention. In this regard, I cannot conceal my disappointment that in the Charter’s text there is not a single reference to God. Yet in God lies the supreme source of the human person’s dignity and his fundamental rights. It cannot be forgotten that it was the denial of God and his commandments which led in the last century to the tyranny of idols.2
The then Cardinal Ratzinger echoed these sentiments on the day before John Paul II’s death:
The rejection of the reference to God, is not the expression of a tolerance…but rather the expression of a conscience that would like to see God cancelled definitively from the public life of humanity, and relegated to the subjective realm of residual cultures of the past.
Furthermore, the Polish episcopate noted the absence of God in the former constitution with “indignation,” calling it a “falsification of the historical truth and a deliberate marginalization of Christianity.”
2. Imposition of Relativism
In the preamble of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the document from which the Treaty of Lisbon defines society’s rights, freedoms and principles, states:
it is necessary to strengthen the protection of fundamental rights in the light of changes in society, social progress and scientific and technological developments by making those rights more visible in a Charter.
The Vice-president of the body that oversaw the compilation of the text of the Charter, Guy Brabant, explained that this opens the way “for an evolving and dynamic conception of fundamental rights.” A draft of the Charter including the phrase “drawing inspiration from its religious heritage.” According to Mr. Brabant, this had to be excluded, thus preventing the consideration of Europe’s religious patrimony “as a source of inspiration of fundamental rights.”3
Once again, Church hierarchy has weighed heavily against the document. Bishop Dominique Rey, of Fréjus-Toulon (France) said:
This Charter represents on many points an intellectual and moral break with the other great international juridical provisions, by presenting a relativist and evolving idea of human rights which disputes the principles of natural law.4
The following words, taken from a recent address of the Holy Father are apropos, indeed:
Today, a positivist conception of law seems to dominate many thinkers. They claim that humanity or society or indeed the majority of citizens is becoming the ultimate source of civil law. …When the fundamental requirements…of basic human rights, are at stake, no law devised by human beings can subvert the law that the Creator has engraved on the human heart without the indispensable foundations of society itself being dramatically affected.5
3. Restricted Protection for Human Life
The same Charter of Fundamental Rights states simply: “everyone has the right to life.” However, by its very simplicity, this phrase is insufficient to confront the many attacks on human life rampant in modern society such as euthanasia, abortion and human cloning.
The renown professor, Msgr. Michel Schooyans explained:
in its present wording, this key article is just unacceptable. Apart from exposing the idea of personhood to the most absurd interpretations, this article should specify that the right to life extends from conception to natural death.6
One of the last rulings of the European Court shows that these “absurd interpretations” are more than a theory. This ruling stated that unborn children do not possess personhood and thus, would not be protected in any way under the new constitution.
Shockingly, the right to life of unborn children is denied while the European Court of Human Rights has defined abortion as “preventative healthcare,” which makes this sin a human right!
Furthermore, the Charter illegalizes human cloning for reproductive purposes, but opens the door to it for therapeutic or other reasons.
Under the new Constitutions, the sick and elderly would also be threatened. This was clearly expressed by Mr. Brabant:
To exclude (euthanasia), several members of the Convention presented amendments wanting to clarify that “every person has a right to life until its natural end.” This formula was not kept, because some states, like the Netherlands, are headed towards a partial and progressive recognition of “the right to death with dignity.”7
4. Official Recognition of Discrimination for “Sexual Orientation,” Limiting the Rights of the Church
If ratified, the Treaty of Lisbon would become history’s first international document to prohibit discrimination on grounds of “sexual orientation.” This is stated in two articles of the constitution. First, Article 10 declares: “the Union shall aim to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.”
Similarly, Article 19 states: “the Council…may take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.”
The inclusion of so-called “sexual orientation” in matters of discrimination would be tantamount to equating differences in race, age and origin with homosexual vice, a contention not likely to sit well with minorities.
Furthermore, it could be used to force homosexuals into jobs and functions that morality and common sense dictate they have no place, such as the: priesthood, athletic instruction, school teaching and even foster or adoptive parenthood.
The inclusion of homosexuality as a basis of non-discrimination also frontally challenges Catholic teaching as expressed by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. On July 22, 1992 it published a document stating:
Recently, legislation has been proposed in various places which would make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal…
“Sexual orientation” does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc. in respect to non-discrimination. Unlike these, homosexual orientation is an objective disorder (cf. “Letter,” No. 3) and evokes moral concern.
There are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account, for example, in the placement of children for adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or athletic coaches, and in military recruitment.
…Among other rights, all persons have the right to work, to housing, etc. Nevertheless, these rights are not absolute. They can be legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct. This is sometimes not only licit but obligatory.
The document also expressed concern that:
Including “homosexual orientation” among the considerations on the basis of which it is illegal to discriminate can easily lead to regarding homosexuality as a positive source of human rights, for example, in respect to so-called affirmative action or preferential treatment in hiring practices.
Furthermore, prohibiting any discrimination based on sexual orientation will limit the freedom of the Church to preach the Gospel and the moral teachings coming from it, as it was denounced by the then Cardinal Ratzinger:
The concept of discrimination is ever more extended, and so the prohibition of discrimination can be increasingly transformed into a limitation of the freedom of opinion and religious liberty. Very soon it will not be possible to state that homosexuality, as the Catholic Church teaches, is an objective disorder in the structuring of human existence.8
5. Dissolving the Differences Between Men and Women
Article 23 of the Charter on Human Rights states:
Equality between women and men must be ensured in all areas, including employment, work and pay.
Vice-president Guy Brabant explains:
The really important expression of the first paragraph of this article is: ‘in all areas.’ The initial text only refers to the social issues, which still figure at the end of the paragraph: employment, work and pay. These elements are only kept to underline their importance; they no longer have a limited character, opposite to the treaty instituting the European Community of which article 141 on the equality of sexes was inserted under the heading ‘Social Policy.’
The Charter goes much further with the affirmation of equality ‘in all areas.’ Without doubt this is the first time that this was done in an international document of juridical nature.9
Denial of the God-given differences of sex “in all areas” would undermine the proper functioning of society. For example, in the religious field this would illegalize the Church’s prohibition on women priests.
In fact, the report: Women and Fundamentalism, produced by the Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities Committee, later approved by the European Parliament condemns:
the administrations of religious organisations and the leaders of extremist political movements who promote racial discrimination, xenophobia, fanaticism and the exclusion of women from leading positions in the political and religious hierarchy.
6. Undermining the Concepts of Marriage and the Family
Concerning the rights of marriage, the Charter states:
The right to marry and the right to found a family shall be guaranteed in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of these rights.
The failure of the document to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman would open the door to same-sex “couples” having the same rights as married couples, including the right to adoption and artificial fertilization. Bishop Dominique Rey argues that this is tantamount to dissociating marriage with the family and is symptomatic of times in which:
Progressively, the right to have a child prevails over the right of the child, particularly those rights of being born and of having a father and a mother.
The then-Cardinal Ratzinger further showed that this faulty definition of marriage undermines the family, which is the fundamental cell of society itself. He then predicted the consequences of such undermining:
Europe would not be Europe if that basic cell of its social edifice were to disappear or be altered in any essential way. The Charter of Fundamental Rights stipulates the right to marriage, but fails to express any juridical and moral protection for it and doesn’t even define it in more precise terms.
Regarding the legal acceptance of same-sex “marriages,” he added:
Such a trend or propensity takes us completely outside the confines of the moral history of humankind, which, despite all kinds of juridical forms of matrimony, always knew that marriage in its essence is the special communion of man and woman open to offspring and hence to the family.10
7. Denying Parents the Right to Give Their Children Religious Instruction
The Charter also denies parents their fundamental right to educate their children. It gives the EU authority to mandate that students are educated from a secular perspective. The Charter states:
the freedom to found educational establishments with due respect for democratic principles and the right of parents to ensure the education and teaching of their children in conformity with their religious, philosophical and pedagogical convictions shall be respected, in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of such freedom and right.
Vice-president Guy Brabant explains the full extent of this article:
The expression: ‘democratic principles,’ that should be respected within the scope of freedom to found educational establishments, needs to be interpreted… as having to include, if not secularism, at least the neutrality of the teaching, which the majority of the Convention didn’t want to explicitly inscribe in the Charter.
He further explains:
the liberties granted to parents by this article must reconcile themselves with the rights for children that are recognised by article 24, particularly that of expressing their views freely, which shall be ‘taken into consideration on matters which concern them in accordance with their age and maturity.’ This addition of rights of children to the rights of parents shows the evolution of ideas and of social customs which have characterised the last half-century of family relations.11
Such a provision could endanger the curricula of Catholic schools and throw the divinely established familial hierarchy on its head. It would give freedom to rebellious teenagers to transgress the limits of the order established in their families, greatly increasing the chances that their adolescent delinquency will carry over into their adult lives.
It would represent, to a large extent, the victory of the rebellious students who demonstrated at Paris’ Sorbonne University in 1968.
8. Forcing the Acceptance of Foreign Law
The Charter would also bind all its member states to accept EU law that originated in other countries. Currently more than 80% of new legislation imposed on Europe’s citizens fits into this category.
Former German President, Roman Herzog explained how this has played out in his country:
The German Ministry of Justice has compared the legal acts adopted by the Federal Republic of Germany between 1998 and 2004 with those adopted by the European Union in the same period. Result: 84 percent come from Brussels, with only 16 percent coming originally from Berlin … The figures stated by the German Ministry of Justice make it quite clear. By far the large majority of legislation valid in Germany is adopted by the German Government in the Council of Ministers [of the EU], and not by the German Parliament.12
Furthermore, the limitation of the binding character of the Charter of Fundamental Rights to EU law and to the EU institutions is unrealistic, because
(a) the principles of primacy and uniformity of Union law mean that Member States will not only be bound by the Fundamental Rights Charter when implementing EU law, but also through the “interpretation and application of their national laws in conformity with Union laws” (v. ECJ judgements in the Factortame, Simmenthal and other law cases); and because
(b) the Charter sets out fundamental rights in areas in which the Union has currently no competence, e.g. outlawing the death penalty, asserting citizens’ rights in criminal proceedings and various other areas.”
All this gives a new and extensive human and civil rights jurisdiction to the EU Court of Justice and makes that Court the final body to decide what people’s rights are in the vast area covered by European law.13
Thus, the acceptance of the Charter of Fundamental Rights as a binding juridical document would impose on all EU member states, uniform standards regarding most sensitive areas where, presently, there are significant national differences.
Given this situation, Pope Benedict XVI rightly asks:
how can they [the EU] exclude an element essential to European identity such as Christianity, with which a vast majority of citizens continue to identify? … Does not this unique form of “apostasy” from itself, even more than its apostasy from God, lead Europe to doubt its own identity?14
9. Ireland Must Become the Voice of Those Who Have No Voice
Although the treaty of Lisbon is being presented as a new constitution, it contains at least 90% of the formerly proposed constitution that was rejected by the citizens of France and the Netherlands. Since the Irish will be the only people before whom this constitution will be put to the vote, circumstances have placed the country in the historic position of being the voice of all Europe that has undemocratically been denied their voice.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon everyone to firmly support the rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon in the Irish referendum scheduled for June 12. Above all it behoves Catholics to pray for this intention. The very Faith of Europe is at stake.
- The complete text of the document is published at: http://www.isfcc.org/nine_reasons.htm
- John Paull II, Message to Cardinal Antonio Maria Javierre Ortas on the Occasion of the 1200th Anniversary of the Imperial Coronation of Charlemagne by Leo III,http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/2000/oct-dec/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20001216_javierre-ortas_en.html
- Guy Brabant, La Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne, Ed. du Seuil, 2001, p. 81 and p. 75-76.
- Cfr. http://www.diocese-frejus-toulon.com/Problemes-ethiques-souleves-par-la.html
- Benedict XVI, Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to Members of the International Theological Commission, Vatican City, 05-10-2007.
- Michel Schooyans, “La face cachée de l’O.N.U.”, p.120.
- Brabant, p. 91-92.
- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, lecture given upon reception of the St. Benedict Award for the promotion of life and the family in Europe on April 1, 2005.
- Brabant. p. 163.
- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Address to the Italian Senate on May 13, 2004, http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=6317
- Brabant p. 132-133.
- Welt Am Sonntag, January 14 2007.
- Prof. Anthony Coughlan, Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Social Policy at Trinity College Dublin, in http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/2773
- Benedict XVI, Address to the Participants in the Convention organized by the COMECE, in http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2007/march/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20070324_comece_en.html