(That secularists are a whiney bunch, that was not a surprise...)
The new president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, from Poland, has started his term by saying he wants to “deepen dialogue with the continent’s Christian churches.”
Mr Buzek, who defines himself as Lutheran, and was Poland’s Prime Minister from 1997 to 2001, is the first president of the European Parliament from a post-communist eastern European country.
Speaking after his election on 14 July, he said: “The principles associated with the whole tradition, culture and, above all, faith of Christianity have fundamental importance for me, as well as for Europe's future identity and development. A debate with churches and other religions on our continent’s problems is essential. I've no doubt Christian values should be very important at an individual level for each politician and leader, but also collectively since they define and show the key ways a politician can act."
The 69-year-old politician now heads the 736-seat parliament for the 27-nation European Union.
Mr Buzek, who is a member of the Christian Democrat grouping in the Parliament, continued: “Respect for others who think differently is also a special value for Christians. Such is my understanding of the presence of these values in social and political life. I have never manifested my faith in a persistent manner. The best way of showing what we believe in is through our own actions and behaviour in daily life, and by acting publicly in a way which reflects our deep Christian faith.”
Buzek said the “vision of Europe” promoted by the Pope John Paul II still indicated “the end to which we should strive”, and said he was concerned European politics had “somewhat renounced Christian values”.
Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said: “It is depressing that such unrepresentative people keep getting elected into key positions in politics. They do not reflect the feelings or thoughts of large numbers of the people they purport to represent and their desire to promote religious influence in public institutions is undesirable for many reasons. Europe is not a ‘Christian continent’ any more, and it is dangerous for someone in Mr Buzek’s position to talk of it in those terms."