In Europe, a search for what defines the EU’s moral identity

Christian Science Monitor Christa Case and Michael J. Jordan September 6, 2006

Newer EU members struggle to promote a more traditional morality.

BERLIN; AND BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA – Europe, it seems, is having a bit of an identity crisis. As leaders from Budapest to Barcelona vie to guide the continent’s forward course, the needle on Europe’s moral compass is bouncing frenetically between two increasingly polarized camps.

• The European Union last month rebuffed Poland’s president over his interest in promoting a return to the death penalty. Tuesday, meanwhile, Polish students rallied against a plan to have stronger religious and patriotic values taught in schools.

• Last winter, Slovakia provoked an EU outcry when it negotiated a draft treaty with the Vatican to give legal protection to doctors who refuse to perform abortions.

• In 2004, the EU was embroiled in a dispute about whether its proposed constitution should include a reference to Christianity as a defining influence on European culture.

Amid the turmoil, however, thinkers from both sides are starting to agree on one point: Restoring Europe’s moral underpinnings is essential if it is once again to develop a strong sense of identity.

. . . more