Letter from AEPL "In Veritate Prize to the President of the European Parliament".

Published on 13/10/2023

Dear President of the European Parliament,

Dear Mrs Metsola,

The European Free Thought Association notes with disapproval the publicity you have given to the In Veritate prize you have received. This prize is awarded to personalities in recognition of their outstanding achievements in combining Christian and European values. The Mgr Pieronek Foundation, like any other institution, is of course free to award a prize to whomever it wishes, and such an award would not, in principle, call for any comment on our part.

Our reaction was prompted by your brief words of thanks on this occasion, which can be found on the COMECE YouTube channel. We were surprised by the remarks you made in your capacity as President of the Parliament and, despite their brevity and relative imprecision, we find them totally unacceptable. If the European Union really wants to be a Europe for all, its leaders must at least respect a certain neutrality, and we would like to reiterate this in the strongest possible terms.

You seem to be closely linking Europe and "Christian values". In doing so, you seem to forget that this issue has been settled since the Member States gave up the idea of including a reference to these possible values in the preamble to the Treaties. A reference to a Christian heritage (in the same way as a Greek, Roman or even Muslim heritage) may be acceptable, but a reference to "values" is shocking for all Europeans who find other motivations for their actions.

This repeated reference is all the more inappropriate as, in your speech, you inextricably linked it to democracy. Presented as an indisputable fact, this link seems to ignore the history of the Catholic Church which, in the encyclical Quanta Cura and the Syllabus, ranked democracy and liberalism among the "errors of our time". We are perfectly aware of certain developments in the Church, but a little caution should moderate the remarks made.

Your confusion between democracy and "Christian values" is also embarrassing, since you devote the rest of your speech to the conflict in Ukraine and the support the EU should give Ukraine in the name of these values. We obviously agree that the Union should support a democratic country and defend the rule of law, which is clearly being violated in this case. But haven't you noticed that Mr Putin has embarked on a crusade against Western democracies in the name of that same vague concept of 'Christian values'? He enjoys the unconditional support of the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kyrill, whom the EU has still not seen fit to sanction.

We fear that the Christian values that you so vigorously defend as President in support of European democracy will be reduced to the defence of Catholic values, which can only worry us even more.

It is not the role of the President of a Parliament - even in a speech of thanks - which should be the Parliament of all Europeans, to refer to religious values. It is not your role to mobilise a religion to analyse a conflict between an aggressor and an aggressed country. The war in Ukraine is not a conflict between Catholics and Orthodox. If we can - quite rightly - see the current situation as a conflict of values (rule of law versus brute force, democracy versus authoritarian rule), giving this conflict a religious colouring invites us to recall that the Marquis de Bussy-Rabutin said that in war, God is always for the big battalions against the little ones.

Although your speech was brief, it was nonetheless shocking and - unintentionally, we hope - contemptuous of all those in Europe who defend democracy without sharing the references to transcendence that you used.



Past President of AEPL President of AEPL

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Published on 26/10/2023

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