Media Watch

Vatican Wants Christ in EU

BBC, May 31 — The Holy See is outright angry that its repeated pleas have been ignored, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported, and that the new proposed European Union Constitution makes no reference to the continent's historic religious background — Christianity.

Such references have been replaced by vague citations of Europe's “spiritual impulse.” But the Greco-Roman and Enlightenment heritage of the continent receive explicit mention.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the constitution's architect, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, said he could not single out Christianity for fear of offending other religious believers.

“We could not mention it more explicitly because, otherwise, we should have mentioned the other religious traditions present in the continent, from the Jewish one to the Muslim one,” Giscard said.

Vatican press spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls called for the next draft of the document to include exactly such a mention of the region's predominant religion.

“This omission would be very important and serious, even from a purely historical point of view,” he said. The Vatican position has been backed by Romano Prodi, European Union commission president.

Earlier in the same week, Vatican officials expressed anxiety at the prospect of opening the EU to include Turkey — effectively making that country's porous border with the Middle East the last frontier separating millions of Islamic migrants from life in wealthy, underpopulated Europe.

Key Cardinal Dies at Age 78

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, June 1 — Pope John Paul II's former special envoy to the Soviet Union, Cardinal Francesco Colasuonno, died May 31 in Puglia, Italy. He was 78.

John Paul wrote a telegram expressing his regrets and his admiration for Cardinal Colasuonno, who had helped him minister to the Catholics of the one-time “captive nations” behind the Iron Curtain and oversee the religious revival that followed the fall of communist regimes.

The Holy Father lauded the cardinal's “intense and patient work as an apostolic nuncio, especially during his service in the countries of Eastern Europe during a particular and difficult period in the history of those nations.”

The AP noted that his death reduces the number of voting cardinals in the College of Cardinals to 111.

Pope Meets with Cardinal Law

THE BOSTON HERALD, June 1 — In their first one-on-one meeting since the Holy Father accepted his resignation Dec. 13, Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law met with Pope John Paul II on May 31, The Boston Herald reported.

Church officials offered no hint as to the meeting's purpose or agenda. They said it was a private audience, which means its subject matter is traditionally not revealed to the press. The cardinal was in Rome on business with Vatican congregations on which he still serves. He also attended the celebration of the Tridentine Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary Major on May 24.

Cardinal Law was long considered one of the Pope's favorite cardinals, the daily noted. He now keeps a low profile, the paper said, serving as a chaplain to a group of nuns outside Washington, D.C.