Porto Carras, Greece - During the European Summit on June 20, 2003, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands and Spain pushed to reopen a contentious debate over mentioning God in the EU's new constitution.
The four nations want to include the reference to God and Christianity because of the religion's influence on European history. Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, chairman of the constitutional convention, disregarded an appeal by Pope John Paul II, and left out the reference as secularists in the convention had demanded.
Instead, the preamble includes a reference to the "cultural, religious, and humanist inheritance of Europe."
"The issue was if we should specify religion," said Giscard d'Estaing. "I was in favor, but bowed to a decision of the majority. There was no consensus in favor of adding the word 'Christian'."
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said that his country will push for a reference, since they have assumed the six-month presidency on July 1. He said that Europe should not "deny what is a fact of European history: the Christian tradition."