06 July 2008

The First Thing in the Lisbon Treaty

This week's Irish Catholic features a brief and infuriating letter from one Patricia O'Brien fron Dublin's Bayside, which those of us who read The Irish Times had the questionable pleasure of reading a fortnight ago:
'Dear Editor [it was 'Madam' last time],
The EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty studiously omits any reference to God or Europe's Christian history and heritage from its preamble.
I for one had no choice but to vote No.
Yours etc,
Patricia O'Brien,
Bayside, Dublin 13.'
When this claptrap first appeared in the Irish Times on 20 June it was dismissed the following day with a letter from one Alex Staveley who said
'Patricia O'Brien (June 20th) says she voted No because the treaty "omits any reference to God or Europe's Christian history and heritage from its preamble". Her argument is the equivalent of an atheist voting No because there is no reference to Richard Dawkins's books outselling those by any contemporary theologian or a Muslim voting no because there is no reference to the Islamic conquest of Spain, which meant classical Greek philosophical texts were translated into Latin and eventually found their way into the Renaissance.

We really need more constructive and feasible suggestions from the No voters if we are to move forward'
Mr Staveley may have overplayed his hand for rhetorical effect here, though it's not a bad hand, but I tend to think you should never play an ace when a two will do. The very first amendment to the Treaty on European Union -- that's the Maastricht Treaty, for those of you with long memories -- detailed in the Lisbon Treaty is as follows:
'1) The preamble shall be amended as follows:
(a) the following text shall be inserted as the second recital:
"Drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious, and humanist inheritance of Europe, from which we have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law,"'
Yes, that's the very first thing of substance in the entire Lisbon Treaty: an acknowledgement of Europe's religious heritage. And let's face it, what is Europe's religious heritage if it is not Christian? That's not to gloss over the importance of the Jewish, Muslin, and indeed Pagan contributions to European life over the centuries, but on balance and allowing for hyperbole I think it pretty much has to be agreed that Hilaire Belloc was right when he declared 'the Faith is Europe and Europe is the Faith'.

It seems that Ms O'Brien, like so many others, voted not against the Lisbon Treaty, but against some phantom treaty that existed only in her febrile imagination.

I have very little patience with people who vote against things not because they don't understand them, but because they don't bother to try understanding them!

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