(03 June 2015) – In a policy paper published by the Jacques Delors Institute, Sébastien Maillard states that relations are changing between a largely secularised Europe and a less Euro-centric Catholic Church under the pontificate of the first pope from the Southern Hemisphere.
The overwhelming “yes” voiced during the referendum on same-sex marriage in Ireland, a country with a strong Catholic tradition, is viewed within the Church as a defeat. The Vatican in particular finds itself swimming against a growing current that has overtaken its historic western strongholds.
The Holy See’s expectations remain nonetheless high with regard to a continent called on to serve, to use the expression of Pope Francis in Strasbourg, as a “precious point of reference for all humanity”. Yet the long-standing favoured relationship with Europe is giving way to a more distant attachment to Brussels, subject to real vigilance.
Vatican diplomacy was, however, a loyal supporter of European construction. It backed the first treaties under Pius XII (ECSC, EDC, Treaties of Rome) and anticipated its enlargement under John Paul II. Its constant concern – on which it was insistent during the negotiations of the Constitutional Treaty – was to assert the Christian basis without which Europe is not viable, according to the Church. Today, the Church intends to foster its dialogue with European institutions and become a facilitator so that all Europeans of the continent may live together, beyond the EU.