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Summary of Archbishop Cordes' Presentation 

to the European Parliament


15 - 16 December 2004


      Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, made an official visit to Members of the European Parliament in Strassbourg, France, on December 15-16, 2004.  The visit culminated in a presentation made to interested delegates and staff regarding the importance of religion within society and in government, particularly with regard to charitable activity.

       He began with a brief treatment of the anthropological underpinnings that provide the basis for the activity on the part of the State in providing material contributions for the needy and for victims of disasters.  He observed the unfortunate exclusion of religion as a positive factor in secular thinking and explored the roots of this dubious anthropology from an historical standpoint.  Noted philosophers, such as Hobbes, saw religion as exerting a harmful influence, and succeeding thinkers like Kant, Hegel, Comte, Freud, and others persuaded the Western world to reduce the impact of religion as much as possible.      Even further, the Archbishop noted that documents such as the Constitution of the United States, the Charter of the United Nations, and the Constitution of the European Union, to name a few, barely mention religion at all, relegating it to a type of "Cinderella" existence. 

       Archbishop Cordes countered these influences by proposing that this perspective of devaluing religion and minimizing its importance is simply outdated and not at all consonant with modern anthropology.  He noted two atheists, twentieth century sociologists Max Weber and Emile Durkheim, who both affirmed the in-substitutable relevance of religion for the social integration of the individuum and the stability of the social order.  These same assertions were echoed by other modern sociologists.

       The Archbishop concluded by saying that the place and value of religion in society is essential rather than peripheral to the human experience, and we need go no further than honest scientific study to begin to understand this fact.  By doing so, we discover that that which is truly religious is concomitantly truly human, and the two cannot be isolated from each other.  This simple reality finds its most profound realization and fulfillment in the Person of Jesus Christ, Who reveals the sublime dignity and purpose of mankind.