of Archbishop Cordes' Presentation
the European Parliament
- 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"
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simply outdated and not at all consonant with modern anthropology.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.