Increasing Religious Diversity as EU Accepts New Member States

April 28, 2004

Source: Deutsche Welle,3367,1433_A_1183522_1_A,00.html

On April 28, 2004 Deutsche Welle reported, "With the 10 new EU member states, the religious map of Europe is also changing dramatically, bringing aboard Catholics, the Orthodox Church and Protestants...'As we build the new, enlarged Europe, we cannot marginalize religions and the movements that have played a part in European integration and Europe's cultural development and that are showing renewed interest and desire for dialogue with the Union's institutions,' European Commission President Romano Prodi said in a 2003 speech. 'Acknowledging this heritage does not send a message of rejection or inclusion. Europe's true strength lies in its capacity to mix and blend vastly different influences and cultures. How can we leave Christianity, Judaism and Islam out of the picture in the open, pluralist Europe we want to build?' In a recent policy paper, the EU suggested consulting regularly with the major churches represented in the Union when legislation that concerns them is being considered. That, perhaps, would give churches a voice in legislative debates over controversial issues like the pro life vs. pro-abortion debate, therapeutic and reproductive cloning and the commercialization of stem cell lines. But it could also help unify the churches in a region whose history has been marked time and time again by religious rifts."