1This article aims to provide a theoretical contribution to the understanding of the way the European Union contributes to structuring the relationships between politics and religion in its member states. This field of research has only recently emerged, based on the recognition that the construction of a “political Europe” implies an interest in a multitude of areas that were previously considered to be the exclusive domain of national policies. 
2Most of the studies that exist in this field come from two disciplinary fields that have traditionally communicated very little, namely law and sociology.  Although this work has undoubtedly highlighted several important aspects, what has been missing from the literature on this theme is the capacity for theoretical synthesis, making it possible to bring out the specificity of the “European model” of structuring the relationships between politics and religion.
3Almost all existing work relies on conceptual categories taken from analysis of the relationships between politics and religion on the national level, such as “laïcité” and “secularism”.  This has prevented consideration of a hypothesis, which has already been amply observed in other domains, namely that that the European Union (EU) represents a sui generis political entity, in relation to the nation-states and other forms of international federation that existed previously. To accommodate this hypothesis, we need to be receptive to thinking creatively – and not conventionally – about the different possible models for structuring the relationships between politics and religion in a given territory.
4From this perspective, political theory, and in particular the history of ideas, can prove useful, since they offer a repertory of models for structuring the relationships between politics and religion, allowing us to account for aspects of empirical reality that are missed by the conventional templates. In this article, I therefore propose to start by reconstructing a theoretical model for structuring the relationships between politics and religion on the basis of a tradition of thought – Christian democracy – to which the literature has not paid much attention, followed by an evaluation of its heuristic usefulness in relation to the institutional structure of the European Union. In other words, the goal of this article is to examine the extent to which an “ideal-type” model of Christian democracy can offer a sufficient key to interpreting the way in which the EU contributes to structuring the relationships between politics and religion among its member states.
5The idea of bringing together Christian democracy and the European Union in this way is far from arbitrary. On the contrary, a significant body of literature already exists highlighting the historical influence exercised by the ideas and actors of Christian democracy on the process of building the Union.  This article, however, takes a different approach: instead of seeking lines of causality, it aims to establish whether the development of an ideal-type model of Christian democracy can offer a sufficient heuristic framework for understanding how the relationships between politics and religion are structured in the EU today. From the point of view of existing work on the connections between Christian democracy and the EU, it can be seen as a way of locating the concrete traces of causal influence by the former on the latter; in other words, it seeks the elements that are already present within the institutional structure of the EU that refer to an ideal-type model of “Christian democracy”.
6The methodology adopted is inspired by the idea of “interpretive” political science developed by Max Weber.  The basic assumption is that our understanding of reality is necessarily filtered by preliminary conceptual categories. The task assigned to political theory therefore consists of developing theoretical frameworks – or “ideal-types” – that can capture and systematize the most prominent traits.  From this perspective, the aim of this article is not to prove that the European Union is a Christian democracy. Its intention is rather to show that a reading of the institutional structure of the EU in light of the tradition of Christian democratic thought allows certain aspects to emerge that have not previously been taken into consideration, or at least offer a different interpretation of them.
7To achieve this goal, the analysis will be split into two parts. In the first, an “ideal-type” model of the Christian democratic conception of the relationships between politics and religion is reconstructed, underlining in particular its differences with the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism”. In itself, this already represents a contribution to the field of studies on the relationships between politics and religion since, despite the enormous influence historically exercised by the ideas and actors of Christian democracy on European politics over the past century, there is still no specific study on this aspect of Christian democratic ideology.  To this end, the analysis will draw on primary sources, in particular the writings of a few representative authors within the Christian democratic tradition – such as Luigi Sturzo and Jacques Maritain  – as well as the principal manifestos and political platforms produced by various Christian democracy parties, starting in the early twentieth century. 
8On the basis of this preliminary theoretical work, the second part of the article will examine what the ideal-type model of “Christian democracy” can reveal in terms of the institutional structure of the European Union. To do so, the analysis includes a reading of the treaty that is the basis for and currently regulates the functioning of the EU through the theoretical prism offered by an ideal-type notion of “Christian democracy”. Of course, this will be far from an exhaustive analysis of the concrete functioning of the EU’s institutional system.  Nevertheless, a detailed reading of the main document that serves to found and regulate the functioning of the EU from the perspective proposed here is a necessary first step towards a greater understanding of the concrete functioning of this institutional system.
Towards an ideal-type model of Christian democracy
9The existence of a tradition of unified and coherent thought corresponding to the notion of “Christian democracy” is not obvious. First, as already noted above, despite the significant influence on European politics of the ideas and actors that fall under this label, the existing literature on Christian democracy remains quite limited. Compared, for example, to the mass of work on other traditions of thought – such as “liberalism” and “social-democracy” – the literature on “Christian democracy” (in particular in the domain of political theory) is very thin. Moreover, almost all of the existing studies insist on the great internal heterogeneity of this tradition of thought, even calling its unity into question. In his book, L’Europe de la démocratie chrétienne, Jean-Dominique Durand asserts that “there is not one European Christian democracy. The expression covers a wide diversity that comes from religious and philosophical references, history, and the electorates”. 
10That said, for more than a century, many politicians and political parties have explicitly identified and recognized each other as “Christian democrats”. This implies that the label must have, at least for them, sufficient meaning to define a political identity that is distinct from others. And if we take into consideration the theoretical treatises by the authors who have contributed the most to forging this identity, as well as the manifestos and political programs that have defined themselves as “Christian democratic” over the last century, we can identify several common elements that allow us to speak of a tradition of thought, in the same way that we speak of a “liberal” or “social-democratic” tradition, even though differences – and sometimes even radical conflicts – exist within these traditions. The aim of this first section is therefore to extrapolate and systematize some of these common elements, with a particular focus on those that concern the relationships between politics and religion.
11In this perspective, the analysis will focus on three concepts that appear to be particularly important for distinguishing an ideal-type of “Christian democracy” from notions of “laïcité” and “secularism”: the idea of a religious inspiration of politics, the principle of subsidiarity, and the positive conception of religious freedom. For each of these terms, it will be a question of showing that the thinkers and actors of Christian democracy have historically advanced a specific interpretation of the concept in question, allowing us to mark a difference with the way in which the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism” are normally perceived, and therefore to bring out the specificity of a “Christian-democrat” model for structuring the relationships between politics and religion.
The idea of “religious inspiration” in politics
12Jean-Marie Mayeur – one of the leading French historians of Christian democracy – asserted that this political movement can be understood as an attempt to reaffirm the “supremacy of the spiritual” over politics in a context (of modernity) that had already established a separation – and therefore a relative degree of autonomy – between these two spheres.  From a theoretical perspective, this took place in the writings of authors like Luigi Sturzo and Jacques Maritain through the arrangement of a distinction within Christian social doctrine itself, which made it possible to identify a properly “religious” component and a more distinctly “political” one.
13Sturzo, for example, spoke of Christianity as both a “religion” and a “civilization”,  while Maritain drew a distinction between acting “as a Christian” and “in a Christian way”.  The first type of action, according to him, is directed towards salvation of the soul and must therefore respond directly to the requirements of Catholic morality; the second is supposed to be directed towards the pursuit of the “common good” on earth, such as was identified by St. Thomas Aquinas as an “infravalent” end, in other words as an end that has its own dignity, even if it is not directly aimed at the salvation of the soul. For Maritain, therefore, acting “in a Christian way” carries with it certain duties that do not stem directly from Catholic morality, since the pursuit of the “common good” on earth must also take into consideration the contingent circumstances that determine the historical context. 
14This construction allows a distinction between two forms of influence that religion has on politics: a direct influence, consisting in the literal application of the principles of Catholic morality in the political realm, and an indirect influence through which Christianism is posited as a more diffuse set of “inspirational principles” for actions aimed at pursuing the “common good” on earth, while also taking into consideration the specific historical circumstances. The idea of a “religious inspiration” of politics can therefore be understood as a way of acting “in a Christian way” in Maritain’s sense; in other words, recognizing an indirect influence of religion on politics, while respecting the distinction – and therefore a degree of relative autonomy – between these two spheres.
15This idea was articulated as follows for the first time by Luigi Sturzo during his speech at the founding meeting of the Italian People’s Party in 1919.
“From the start, we have not allowed religion to be our political emblem, because we clearly wanted to position ourselves in the specific territory of a party which has as its direct object the public good and the nation. However it would be illogical to conclude from this that we are falling into the mistake of liberalism, which makes religion a simple affair of conscience and therefore seeks in the secular State the ethical inspiration of public morality. This is precisely what we struggle against when we seek in religion the living spark of all individual and collective life. Yet we cannot become a political party on the orders of the Church, any more than we have the right to speak in the name of the Church.” 
17The same concept of “religious inspiration” can be found in several other manifestos and campaign programs produced by the parties of Christian democracy starting in the early twentieth century. The Italian CD, for example, defined itself specifically as a “partito di inspiratione cristiana”.  The 1969 Berlin Program of the German CDU asserted that “the Christian-Democratic Union is inspired by Christian faith and thought”;  while the 1944 Christmas program of the Christian Social Party indicated that “Christianity will be the source of inspiration of our policies… The Christians who join will therefore feel that they are serving their religious ideal in the political arena”.  What should be noted in this regard is that this idea of “Christian-inspired” politics is very different from that of a separation between the two spheres, which is implicit in the way the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism” are normally conceived. This separation can be expressed in the sense of a complete “neutrality” of the state towards the different religious beliefs present in society (as in the case of American “secularism”)  or it can be part of a broader and more active project of de-Christianization of society (as is the case of certain interpretations of the principle of “laïcité” in France).  In both cases, however, it is a question of establishing a “wall” between politics and religion which aims to prevent religion from continuing to exercise influence of this type on politics.
18The idea of politics being “religiously inspired” can therefore be identified as a first element in the specificity of the tradition of “Christian democratic” thought in relation to the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism”. 
The principle of “subsidiarity”
19The second distinctive aspect of this tradition of thought consists in the affirmation of a principle of “subsidiarity”. The existing literature on the notion of Christian democracy has already been very insistent on this point.  However, most of this work treats subsidiarity exclusively as an “administrative” or “economic” principle whose function is to oppose institutional centralization,  or to trace an intermediate path between economic individualism and collectivism,  or both.  To see how this principle also represents a vector for structuring the relationships between politics and religion, it is necessary to reposition it in the framework of a broader project critiquing the modern idea of state sovereignty. Doing this reveals its coherence with the affirmation of a “primacy of the spiritual”, identified by Mayeur as the central node of the Christian democratic ideology.
20The starting point is the idea that the notion of sovereignty goes hand in hand with an “individualistic” idea of society, from which an “artificial” and in the end “absolutist” vision of the state is meant to result. In his writings, for example, Sturzo speaks of a form of “statolatry” or “state pantheism” that for him are the logical consequences of a “contractualist” notion of society, and that he accuses of providing the ideological precondition for “totalitarianism”.  In the same way, in the chapter dedicated to the concept of sovereignty in his book Man and the State, Jacques Maritain writes:
“The two concepts of Sovereignty and Absolutism have been forged together on the same anvil. [Through their inner logic, they naturally tend towards totalitarianism.] They must be scrapped together.” 
22Against this conceptual horizon marked by the idea of sovereignty, Sturzo and Maritain oppose an “organic” understanding of society based on the concept of a “human person” as an entity inscribed naturally in a series of “intermediary bodies” organized in a hierarchy: the family first and foremost, but also professional or territorial organizations, right up to the state, which is seen as a “community of communities”, whose function is to manage the highest activities of the body politic. In this regard, Sturzo writes,
“Our understanding of society is often termed organic to contrast it with individualism. The meaning of this adjective is complex. In a Christian democracy, all administrative, economic, trade union, social, cultural, and religious organizations that respond to the needs and the specific characteristics of each class, region, and population, as well as their particular and general interests, must exist, be autonomous, and be capable of acting.” 
24From this point of view, the state is seen simply as one of the different levels of the “organic” structure of the body politic, and not as an end in itself. Although Sturzo and Maritain do not mention the word “subsidiarity” explicitly in their works, it was introduced into the framework of Christian democracy by the Quadragesimo Anno encyclical issued by Pope Pius XI in 1931, precisely in reference to this understanding of the articulation between the individual, society, and the state. From the start, it is positioned in counterpoint to the idea of state sovereignty, as the Pope states very clearly in the following passage:
“It is true that on account of changed conditions many things which were done by small associations in former times cannot be done now save by large associations. Still, that most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed, remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy […]. The supreme authority of the State ought, therefore, to let subordinate groups handle matters and concerns of lesser importance, which would otherwise dissipate its efforts greatly. Thereby the State will more freely, powerfully, and effectively do all those things that belong to it alone because it alone can do them.” 
26Following this first use in the encyclical of Pius XI, the concept of “subsidiarity” was taken up by many other manifestos and political programs produced by the parties of Christian democracy over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In his Idee Ricostruttive della Democrazia Cristiana [Ideas for the Reconstruction of Christian Democracy] in 1943, for example, Alcide De Gasperi asserts that:
“The most effective organic guarantee of freedom will be the constitution of regions as entities, according to a principle of subsidiarity.” 
28The same is posited by the manifesto of the Belgian Christian Social Party adopted by the congress of 1959.
“The existence of smaller social bodies inside the State must be recognized. They can do much in terms of collaboration and organization and, better than the State, they allow the active participation of all interested parties.” 
30Finally, the political program adopted by the German CDU during its final congress in Hanover in 2007 reaffirmed this principle in the following way:
“Freedom makes responsibility in the development of the human person possible and necessary. For this reason, there must be provisions for social life according to a principle of subsidiarity: what the individual citizen can accomplish alone, in family or in free association with other people, must remain under his or her responsibility.” 
32This understanding of the articulation between the individual, society, and the state represents a challenge to the principles of “laïcité” and “secularism”, because it implies that the body politic is not integrated by the legal order but by its own “organic” structure, composed of a multiplicity of hierarchically organized “intermediaries”. Faith in the existence of such a “natural order” thus becomes the primary factor of social integration. This appears very clearly in Maritain’s thought where, after asserting that the “body politic is composed of partial and particular authorities, layered on top of each other”, he also adds:
“A Christian democracy, in other words a democracy fully aware of its own sources must, under penalty of disintegration, keep alive in itself the Christian sense of human dignity…Christian truths and incentives and the inspiration of the Gospel, awakening common consciousness, are the very soul, the inner strength, and the spiritual reserve of the body politic.” 
34Just like the idea of the “religious inspiration” of politics, this notion of social integration via religion is obviously in tension with the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism”, from the moment that they are based on a principle of separation between the domain of politics (and therefore the law) and that of religion (and therefore society). The analysis above highlights a point that is not often emphasized by the literature on the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism”, but nonetheless remains of capital importance, namely that these two notions are inextricably linked to the affirmation of a principle of state sovereignty.
35Only the concentration of political power in an authority of supreme decision allows the political sphere to be distinguished from that of society, and therefore politics from religion. In the absence of this authority, the question of what guarantees the unity of the body politic remains open. The way in which the ideology of Christian democracy has historically proposed to respond to this question is that the body politic can be integrated by the Christian faith into the existence of a “natural order” that posits the organic unity of society.
36The principle of “subsidiarity” therefore reveals itself to be in tension with the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism” from the moment it is based on a refusal of state sovereignty, which it aims to replace with an “organic” conception of society grounded in Christian faith in the existence of a “natural order”.
The “positive” understanding of religious freedom
37The idea that public authority should not be limited to allowing the free exercise of religious faith, but should also work actively to encourage it, logically follows the principles established above. If we start with the assumption that religion is a source of “inspiration” for political action, as well as the main factor in the “integration” of society, then it cannot be considered as a simple cultural element of the same order as other beliefs, interests, or notions of the good that are prevalent in society. On the contrary, religion appears as “the soul of society”, according to the expression used by Jacques Maritain. As a result, public authorities have a specific interest not only in protecting it, but also in nourishing and promoting it as a priority in relation to other cultural authorities present in society.
38It should therefore not be surprising to find in the writings of authors who belong to the Christian democratic tradition of thought the recurring idea that religious freedom should not be interpreted exclusively as a negative right – in other words, as a right to noninterference in the practice of one’s own religion – but also as a positive obligation of the state to protect, promote, and encourage religion in society. This idea is explicitly stated by Luigi Sturzo in a text significantly entitled “Lo Spirito della Democrazia” [“The Spirit of Democracy”].
“The rights of human beings are not exclusively negative, but also positive… The State cannot absorb them into itself, just as it cannot absorb the rights of the social bodies in which the individual develops his or her own personality, such as the family, school, profession, and so forth.” 
40The same idea is then advanced by Jacques Maritain in his book Man and the State:
“[The body politic] would positively facilitate the religious, social, and educational work by means of which [the Church …] freely cooperates in the common welfare. By removing obstacles and opening the doors, the body politic, its free agencies and institutions, would positively facilitate the effort of the apostles of the Gospel to go to the masses and share their life.” 
42Further along in the same text, Maritain also identifies some of the ways in which public authorities are supposed to accomplish this task of “positive assistance” to the role of religion in civil society. I will mention three in particular: (1) what he calls “public recognition of the existence of God”, by which he means the adoption of Christianity as the “official religion” of the state;  (2) including representatives from different religious orders – and in particular the Catholic church – in the processes of public decision making, through what he calls “practices of consultation in national councils”;  (3) public financing of religious organizations and institutions of worship, but also “obligatory religious education” for all members of the body politic. 
43Almost all of these practical precepts were later adopted by the main platforms and political manifestos produced by the Christian democracy parties in Europe over the course of the previous century. In his Ideas for the Reconstruction of Christian Democracy, for example, Alcide De Gasperi states that:
“Since a free order can only be viable if it is founded on moral values, the democratic State must protect religion, the integrity of the family, and help parents in their mission to educate the new generations in accordance with Christian morals.” 
45Along the same lines, the political program adopted by the German CDU in 2007 asserts:
“It is not only the duty of the Church but also a major responsibility of the State and citizens to keep moral values and religious beliefs in our awareness, to maintain and strengthen them… As a result, the freedom of churches and religious organizations to provide moral support to society must remain indisputable.” 
47The “positive” understanding of religious freedom expressed in these passages is clearly distinct from the one implicit in the principles of “laïcité” and “secularism”. A “laic” or “secular” state can only allow religious freedom as a subset of a broader category of subjective rights that fall under “freedom of belief”.  This implies treating religion as a particular “notion of good” on the same level as all other “comprehensive doctrines”.  From there, it follows that “laïcité” and secularism exclude the possibility of recognizing a privileged status for religions, and therefore of taking specific measures to encourage or promote them. 
48Beyond the idea of “religious inspiration” and the identification of religion as the main factor in social integration implicit in the doctrine of “subsidiarity”, the “positive” understanding of religious freedom can therefore be considered as a third distinctive element of the ideal-type concept of “Christian democracy”, one which allows a distinction with the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism”. The table below provides a visual summary.
Ideal-type models of the structure of relationships between politics and religion
Ideal-type models of the structure of relationships between politics and religion
Politics and religion in the Treaty of Lisbon
49On the basis of the theoretical work set out above, we can now turn to examining what an ideal-type of “Christian democracy” can bring to light within the institutional structure of the European Union concerning the relationships between politics and religion. As already indicated in the introduction, this work is based on a reading of the consolidated version of the treaty that serves as the foundation of the EU and currently regulates its functioning. Where it is useful for the analysis, I will also make reference to some elements of case law related to these treaties, to determine the most pertinent aspects. This analysis will be split into three sections. In the first, I will illustrate how the treaty that serves as the foundation of the European Union and currently governs it attributes competencies relative to the structuring of relationships between politics and religion on the basis of a principle of “subsidiarity”. In the second, I will consider how this treaty resolved the question of including a reference to the “Christian roots” of Europe as an “inspirational principle” for its politics. Finally, the third section will be consecrated to a study of the article of the European treaty that ratified the principle of “religious freedom”, focusing in particular on its implications concerning the legitimacy of intervention by public authorities in the religious organizations present in their territory.
50In each section, I will try to show that the theoretical framework in the first part of this article allows us to highlight the aspects of this treaty that are not compatible with the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism”, but refer instead to some of the central elements of the ideology of “Christian democracy”. This will allow me to develop the hypothesis that an ideal-type model of “Christian democracy” offers a more adequate conceptual framework to describe the way in which the European Union contributes to structuring the relationships between politics and religion in relation to the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism”.
Conferral of competences in the European treaty
51The treaty that serves as the foundation and governs the functioning of the European Union does not claim to govern the relationships between politics and religion in a direct way. On the contrary, Article 5 of the first part of this treaty stipulates as follows:
53Since the regulation of the relationships between politics and religion does not appear in the articles that list the competences explicitly attributed to the European Union (Articles 3 and 4 of the treaty on the functioning of the EU), one could conclude that the Union decided not to intervene in structuring the relationships between politics and religion in its territory, and therefore that there is no “European model” for structuring these relationships. 
54The reality is more complex, as the second part of this treaty also stipulates that the competences that are not expressly attributed to the Union remain under the authority of the member states, according to a principle of “subsidiarity” defined in the following way (Article 5.3):
“Under the principle of subsidiarity, in areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Union shall act only if and insofar as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the member states, either at central level or at regional and local level, but can rather, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at Union level.”
56This principle represents a limit to the sovereignty of the member states, since it implies that “In certain areas and under the conditions laid down in the Treaties, the Union shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the member states, without thereby superseding their competence in these areas” (Article 2.5).
57The areas indicated as being part of this category in Article 6 of the second part of the Treaty include “culture”, “education”, and “social policies”. Moreover, it should be noted that the jurisprudence of the two main European courts – the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights – regularly intervenes to regulate the relationships between politics and religion, by accepting to arbitrate conflicts related to religious freedom and other questions concerning the role of religions in civil society.  The fact that the regulation of the relationships between politics and religion does not represent a competence explicitly attributed to the European Union does not mean that it has no role in structuring these relationships, but must be interpreted as a distinctive characteristic of the “European model” of structuring these relationships.
58The first element of this “model”, which comes from what we have just discussed, is therefore that the European Union does not aim to create a homogenous legal space to regulate the relationships between politics and religion, but is conceived more as a supra-state authority with the function of imposing limits on what the member states have the right to do in this domain. This is confirmed by one of the best established principles of the jurisprudence of the two main European courts: the doctrine of the “margin of appreciation” according to which member states have the right to a certain “latitude” in interpreting the general principles inscribed in the founding treaties of the EU, without however being able to transgress them outright.  The institutional structure designed by the treaty that founded the EU and governs its functioning thus provides for overlapping layers of different partial authorities, with shared competences, without any of them being able to claim a power of sovereign decision in terms of regulating the relationships between politics and religion.
59This is already sufficient cause to call into question the idea that the European Union can be described as “laïc” or “secular”; as already noted in the first part of this article, the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism” are conceptually inseparable from the affirmation of a principle of sovereignty (given that only the concentration of political power in a supreme decisionmaking authority allows the distinction between the sphere of politics and that of society, and therefore of politics from religion). In the institutional structure put in place by the European treaty, however, the line of demarcation between these domains is clouded by the fact that the attribution of competences to different decision-making authorities is not accomplished exhaustively by the legal order itself but is implicitly supported by sociological criteria, like the idea that a certain objective can be accomplished at a certain level of jurisdiction in a “sufficient” way or even a “better” way than in another.
60This supposes the existence of an objective way of establishing what institutional level is “best” to accomplish a specific task. In the case of a conflict of competencies, for example, the treaty does not stipulate who has the authority to decide the institutional level to which the competence in question should be attributed. It is not a problem if one considers that society is integrated in an “organic” way through a multitude of distinct “bodies”, according to the design of a “natural order”. Yet if one assumes that the body politic is an “artificial” entity created by the individuals that compose it, this way of understanding the institutional system leaves a major political question open: how to determine what guarantees the unity and coherence of the legal order as such.
61As already noted in the first part of this article, in the Christian democratic tradition of thought, this function is accomplished by faith in the existence of a “natural order” willed by God. However, this solution is not available from a “laïc” or “secular” point of view, since these notions are based on a principle of separation between politics and religion. My analysis therefore demonstrates that the way in which competences are attributed in the treaty that serves as the foundation of the European Union is not neutral from the point of view of structuring the relationships between politics and religion. The principle of “subsidiarity” implies that the sphere of law and that of society cannot be clearly separated from each other, and therefore that the legal order as such cannot be considered to be “laïc” or “secular” in the way that these notions are normally understood.
The question of the “Christian roots” of Europe
62In the absence of legal criteria for establishing what guarantees the unity and coherence of the European Union, the substantive principles indicated by the treaty as a source of “inspiration” for its policies take on particular importance. As we may recall, this question caused a major controversy during the process of drafting the first constitutional treaty for the EU, which was submitted for ratification in 2005.  On the one hand, the representatives of religious organizations (but also those who hold a “substantialist” position on constitutionalism) claimed that the draft of the constitutional treaty should have referred to the “Christian roots” of Europe.  On the other, the “secular” representatives claimed that this reference would bias the treaty by compromising its openness to individuals and social groups belonging to other religious traditions. 
63The fact that this reference is not included in the text submitted for ratification was generally interpreted as a victory for the “secular” front. However, if we look closely at the expression that was used – and then institutionalized by the Treaty of Lisbon – the question seems more complex. In fact, the second sentence of the preamble of the treaty serving as the foundation and governing the functioning of the European Union stipulates that this union “draws inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, from which have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law”.
64It is, of course, an expression of compromise. However, the perspective of the reconstruction of an ideal-type of “Christian democracy” as proposed in the first part of this article can shed light on several significant aspects. First and foremost, the treaty in question opens with an explicit declaration that it is “inspired” by a “religious” heritage. As we have seen, this idea of a “religious inspiration” of politics is a central element of the ideology of Christian democracy, which historically has fulfilled the function of reaffirming a “primacy of the spiritual” over politics, while recognizing a degree of relative autonomy between these two spheres.
65As it is, this principle has no equivalent in any European constitution that explicitly recognizes the principles of “laïcité” and “secularism”, from the moment that these principles are based on the idea of a separation between politics and religion, which aims precisely to exclude the influence of religion on politics. Moreover, we can also note that the treaty that serves as the foundation of the EU and governs its functioning does not make any mention of the principles of “laïcité” or of “secularism”. It seems logical, since the idea of the “religious inspiration” of politics and that of the “separation” between these two domains are incompatible. Thus the fact that this treaty highlights its “religious inspiration” in the preamble implies a strong stance on the relationship between politics and religion, which is only understandable in light of an ideal-type model of “Christian democracy”.
66From this perspective, another element that we might draw attention to is the fact that the same sentence from the preamble in which the treaty recognizes its “religious inspiration” also implicitly situates the “religious” and “humanist” heritage of Europe on the same level. The specific referent of this idea of a “humanist heritage” of Europe is not immediately clear. However, it can be interpreted as an implicit way to refer to the philosophical and cultural movements that led to the principles of “laïcité” and “secularism” in European history.  What seems significant from this point of view is that this way of including a reference to its principles (without mentioning them explicitly) implies that they are situated on the same conceptual level as the “religious heritage” of Europe, as parallel components of a broader “cultural” heritage.
67This is in contrast with the way in which the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism” have been historically understood. The principle of separation between politics and religion implies that “laïcité” and “secularism” are not understood as substantive cultural givens on the same level as other “comprehensive” doctrines, but as formal characteristics of the legal framework, of which the function is to allow a plurality of “comprehensive doctrines” to coexist within a single legal order. In this sense, the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism” depend on the possibility of establishing a distinction between the “form” of legal order and the “comprehensive doctrines” that exist within it. By implicitly positing an equivalency between these notions and the “religious” heritage of Europe, the European Union treaty makes this distinction impossible, and therefore undermines the basis for conceiving of “laïcité” and “secularism” as formal characteristics of the legal order.
68Finally, the last aspect of the sentence that replaces the reference to the “Christian roots” of Europe in the preamble of the treaty on the EU, which seems significant from the point of view of an ideal-type conception of “Christian democracy”, is the mention of the “rights of the human person”. As indicated above, the notion of the “human person” is in fact another central element of the Christian democratic ideology, as opposed to the “individualist conception” of society as an “artificial” entity created on the model of a contract between a group of individuals conceived of as independent and autonomous. For the thinkers and actors of Christian democracy, the “person” is the fundamental unit of an “organic” concept of society composed of a multitude of intermediate “bodies”, according to the design of a “natural order” willed by God.
69The ideal-type model of “Christian democracy” elaborated in the first part of this article should therefore make us aware of the distinction between an affirmation of “human rights” and of “rights of the human person”. While the former are based on a principle of individual autonomy and are opposed to any collective control over the individual, the latter take their legitimacy from the idea of a divine “natural order” and therefore tend to reaffirm the individual’s participation in an order that surpasses him or her. Once again, on this point, the founding treaty of the European Union appears to be the result of a compromise between several different political ambitions and cultural traditions, since other articles of the same treaty make reference to “human rights” (for example, Article 2 and Article 6 of the treaty). Yet the fact that the “inviolable rights of the human person” are found in the second sentence of the treaty’s preamble is a clear indicator of the influence exercised by a “Christian democracy”-based conceptual framework on this document.
The idea of respect for religious freedom
70The article of the European treaty that validates the principle of “religious freedom” is just as revealing (Article 17.1).
“The Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the member states.”
72Like the expression from the preamble that has just been analyzed, a close reading of this sentence in light of the ideal-type model of “Christian democracy” helps to bring out several important aspects.
73The first is the use of the dual formula “respects and does not prejudice”. Assuming that “not prejudicing” the status of churches and religious associations under national law refers to a principle of non-interference, the question remains of establishing the meaning of the additional stipulation that the European Union is also held to “respect” this status. An indication is provided in the following clause of the same article.
“Recognising their identity and their specific contribution, the Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organisations.”
75This sentence is very significant, as it implies that the European Union recognizes a particular status for religious organizations in civil society, by virtue of their “specific contribution” to the culture and political identity of the groups that compose it. As we saw above, this is a fundamental assumption of the ideology of Christian democracy, since it is based on the idea that religion is a “source of inspiration” for political action as well as the main factor for “integration” of society as such (“the soul of society” to borrow the expression of Jacques Maritain once again). The ideology of Christian democracy has therefore always refused to treat religion as a simple cultural or sociological given on the same level as other beliefs, interests, or concepts of the good present in society, demanding instead that it be granted special status.
76From this, the actors and thinkers of Christian democracy have concluded that public authority should not be limited to guaranteeing the negative freedom of religious organizations to worship without interference, but should also intervene in a positive way in civil society to protect, encourage, and even cultivate the religious beliefs and traditions that are present there. In light of this idea, the notion of “respect” of the status granted to these churches and religious organizations referred to in Article 17 of the treaty can be interpreted as a way to ratify a “positive” understanding of religious freedom, meaning that the Union should not be limited to “not prejudicing” the status accorded to churches and religious organizations in virtue of national law, but should also be actively involved in protecting and encouraging them.
77This interpretation is also confirmed by a recurring phrase in the case law of the European Court of Justice and of the European Court of Human Rights, according to which “The verb ‘respect’ means more than ‘acknowledge’ or ‘take into account’. In addition to a primarily negative undertaking, it implies some positive obligation on the part of the State”.  Yet the most distinctive indication that Article 17 validates a “positive” conception of religious freedom is given by its concrete application on an institutional level. Based explicitly on the clause stipulating that in virtue of their “specific contribution, the Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organisations”, in the early 1990s the European Commission started an initiative (originally called “A Soul for Europe”) with the precise goal of establishing the conditions of this “dialogue” between legislators and representatives of the different religious traditions and associations around “common goals” and “political questions”. Originally given the structure of a forum for periodic consultations with the representatives of six religious faiths, this program later developed into a permanent institution that holds regular discussions with the representatives of more than fifty religious or non-confessional organizations under the auspices of the “Bureau of European Policy Advisors”. 
78Manifestly, this way of including representatives of religious organizations in the process of political decision-making is incompatible with the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism”, as long as they are based on a principle of separation between politics and religion, and therefore do not allow public authorities to grant a specific role to religious organizations in civil society, and even less to choose officially the representatives of the religious faiths and traditions present who have the right to speak in this privileged forum. By contrast, the idea that public institutions have a “positive” obligation to recognize publicly the contribution of religious beliefs in the pursuit of the “common good” and therefore to include official representatives in “national advisory councils” is a central element of the ideology of Christian democracy.
79My analysis shows that the concept of “religious freedom” ratified by the founding treaty that governs the European Union cannot be understood from the perspective of the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism”, but resonates perfectly with an ideal-type model of “Christian democracy”. By combining this result with those obtained in the two previous sections, we get the following table.
Politics and religion in the treaty on the European Union
Politics and religion in the treaty on the European Union
80* * *
81The conclusion of my analysis is that an ideal-type model of “Christian democracy” allows us to highlight several elements of the founding treaty that governs the functioning of the European Union. My analysis also emphasized how this treaty is the result of a compromise between different traditions of thought and political projects.
82However, the elements that I have highlighted allow us to expand the hypothesis that an ideal-type model of “Christian democracy” offers a more adequate framework for grasping the way in which the EU participates in structuring the relationships between politics and religion in its territory, in relation to the notions of “laïcité and “secularism” on which the current literature has focused.
83It is also true that this study is not an exhaustive presentation of this hypothesis. That would require a much deeper study of the case law related to the treaty on the European Union, as well as the concrete application of the principles it contains, a task I intend to pursue elsewhere. However, this article throws light on the unavoidable nature of theoretical reflection on the notion of “Christian democracy” in order to understand the way in which the EU contributes to structuring the relationships between politics and religion on its territory: an area of research that has almost exclusively focused on the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism”.
84If we accept this conclusion, another avenue of research then opens up that it was not possible to address in this article: one related to the normative evaluation of the components of the institutional structure of the European Union that reflect an ideal-type model of “Christian democracy”. This question also deserves its own study. However, what can already be said in this regard is that while it is true that one of the major challenges to the European Union today is the significant rise in religious pluralism on European territory (due, at least in part, to the sizeable and long-term settlement of residents and citizens of non-Christian upbringing), the application of a model for structuring the relationships between politics and religion based on the notion of “Christian democracy” could become problematic.
85Whilst this theoretical framework is extremely effective in responding to the challenges it faced in the last century – in other words, most importantly, the political integration of Christianity into the framework of modern democratic regimes, along with electoral competition with institutionalized Communism in Eastern Europe – its ability to meet those of the twenty-first century remains to be proven. 
On this point, see for example, Justine Lacroix and Kalypso Nicolaidis, European Stories. Intellectual Debates on Europe in National Contexts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). See also: Simon Hix, Klaus Goetz (eds), Europeanised Politics? European Integration and National Political Systems (London: Frank Cass, 2001); Jürgen Neyer and Antje Wiener (eds), The Political Theory of the European Union (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
Among the most important works that have appeared in this domain, see in particular François Foret, Religion and Politics in the European Union. The Secular Canopy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Lorenzo Zucca, A Secular Europe. Law and Religion in the European Constitutional Landscape (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); Ronan McCrea, Religion and the Public Order of the European Union (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010); Bérengère Massignon, Des dieux et des fonctionnaires. Religions et laïcités face au défi de la construction européenne (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2007); Jean-Paul Willaime, Europe et religions. Les enjeux du 21e siècle (Paris: Fayard, 2004). For volumes of collected essays on this subject, see also: Lorenzo Zucca and Camil Ungureanu (eds), Law, State and Religion in the New Europe. Debates and Dilemmas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013; Lucian Leustean and John Madley (eds), Religion, Politics and Law in the European Union (New York: Routledge, 2009); François Foret and Xavier Itcaina (eds), Politics of Religion in Western Europe. Modernities in Conflict? (London: Routledge, 2011); Bérengère Massignon and Virginie Riva (eds), L’Europe avec ou sans Dieu? Héritages et nouveaux défis (Paris: Les Éditions de l’Atelier, 2010). For older works on the same theme, see also: Timothy Byrnes and Peter Katzenstein (eds), Religion in an Expanding Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003); René Andrau, Dieu, l’Europe et les politiques. De Léon XII à la Charte des droits fondamentaux (Brussels: Bruno Leprince, 2002); Marco Ventura, La laicità dell’Union europea. Diritti, mercato, religione (Milan: Giappichelli, 2001); Philippe Chenaux, Une Europe vaticane? Entre le plan Marshall et les traités de Rome (Louvain-la-Neuve: Ciaco, 1990).
Practically all of the works mentioned above in one way or another support the description of the institutional structure of the European Union as “secular” or “laïc”. On this point, it should also be noted that most of these works also propose to redefine these concepts in a much broader – and therefore vaguer – way in comparison to the way they are normally understood. In his book, A Secular Europe, for example, Lorenzo Zucca writes: “The European Union is secular. Its secularism is not about the relationship between church and state; this is obvious enough: the EU is not a state. EU’s secularism is about diversity […] Secular law is about taking different interests into account and mediating between them. This does not mean that there will be no conflict between interests and goals.” Lorenzo Zucca, A Secular Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 90-1. Along the same lines, in an article entitled “Peut-on parler de laïcité européenne?”, Jean-Paul Willaime asserts that a preliminary condition to seeing the EU as “laïc” is to extract this concept from its “French institutional translation” and to assimilate it more with a notion of “cultural laïcité”, adding that this is “what makes Émile Poulat say ‘we are all laïc’, in the sense that we live in a society, under a government, that refuses to find its foundation and guarantee in God, in religious transcendence, and which relies on a contract between its members”. Jean-Paul Willaime, “Peut-on parler de laïcité européenne?” in Jean Bauberot (ed.), La laïcité à l’épreuve. Religions et libertés dans le monde (Paris: Encyclopaedia Universalis, 2004), 53-63 (56-7). [Translator’s note: The term “laïcité” and “laïc” have been kept in French to emphasize the specificity of the notion in French policy as distinct from “secularism”.]
For an overall view of the literature on this subject, see Jean-Dominique Durand, L’Europe de la démocratie chrétienne (Brussels: Complexe, 1995); Stathis Kalyvas, The Rise of Christian Democracy in Europe (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996); Emiel Lamberts (ed.), Christian Democracy in the European Union, 1945/1995 (Proceedings of the Leuven Colloquium) (Louvain: Leuven University Press, 1997); Wolfram Kaiser, Christian Democracy and the Origins of the European Union (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007); Philippe Chenaux, De la chrétienté à l’Europe. Les catholiques et l’idée européenne au 20e siècle (Tours: CLD, 2007); Paul Fimister and Robert Schuman. Neo-Scholastic Humanism and the Unification of Europe (Brussels: Peter Lang, 2008); Antonin Cohen, De Vichy à la Communauté européenne (Paris: PUF, 2012); Marco Duranti, Human Rights Reactionaries. The Conservative Foundations of the European Project (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).
See Max Weber, Essais sur la théorie de la science (Paris: Plon, 1965) and Economy and Society (Oakland: University of California Press, 2013). See also, Edward Shills and Henry Finch (eds), Max Weber on the Methodology of Social Sciences (London: Transaction Publishers, 2001); Dominique Schnapper, La compréhension sociologique. Démarche de l’analyse typologique (Paris: PUF, 2005).
In this regard, it is important to emphasize that this methodology is not subject to the same criteria of validity as an “explicative” political science. By definition, ideal-types in the Weberian sense will never correspond completely to reality. However, their usefulness comes from the way in which they allow us to grasp reality; in other words, in the contribution to understanding that results from different ways of perceiving reality.
For an overall view on this literature, see Robert Irving, The Christian Democratic Parties of Western Europe (London: Allen & Unwin, 1979); Jean-Marie Mayeur, Des partis catholiques à la démocratie chrétienne (Paris: Armand Colin, 1980); Pierre Latemandia, La démocratie chrétienne (Paris: PUF, 1993); David Hanley, Christian Democracy in Europe. A Comparative Perspective (London: Pinter, 1994); Stathis Kalyvas, The Rise of Christian Democracy in Europe; Emiel Lamberts, Christian Democracy in the European Union; Thomas Kselman and Joseph A. Buttigieg (eds), European Christian Democracy. Historical Legacies and Comparative Perspectives (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003); Stathis Kalyvas and Kees Van Kersbergen, “Christian democracy”, Annual Review of Political Science, 13, 2010, 183-209. See also: Giorgio Galli, Storia della Democrazia Cristiana (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2007); Guido Formigoni, Alla Prova della Democrazia. Chiesa, Cattolici e Modernità nell’Italia del 900 (Trento: Il Margine, 2008).
The choice to focus the analysis on these two authors is justified by the fact that the existing literature on the notion of Christian democracy generally identifies them as the two most important and representative figures in this tradition of thought, by virtue not only of the depth and systematic nature of their intellectual development but also of their active involvement in the practical political application of the currents of thought they helped to found. On this point, see for example: Jean-Marie Mayeur, Des partis catholiques, and Stathis Kalyvas and Kees Van Kersbergen, “Christian democracy”. For works dealing more specifically with the thinking of these two authors and their historical significance, see also: Bernard Hubert (ed.), Jacques Maritain en Europe. La réception de sa pensée (Paris: Beauchesne, 1996); Luigi Malgeri (ed.), Luigi Sturzo Nella Storia d’Italia (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1973).
The set of documents that I was able to consult is available on the website “CIVITAS – Forum of Archives and Research on Christian Democracy”, https://civitas-farcd.eu/. [Translator’s note: Website accessed 5 February 2016.]
This task would require a much deeper examination of the case law relative to this treaty, as well as how it was operationalized in concrete terms on the level of politics and sociology.
Jean-Dominique Durand, L’Europe de la démocratie chrétienne, 12. [Translator’s note: All translations from French are by Cadenza AcademicTranslations, unless an alternative English-language source is given.]
Jean-Marie Mayeur, Des partis catholiques, 9-11.
See, for example, Luigi Sturzo, “La Civiltà Cristiana”, in Opera Omnia. Vol. 4. Political e Morale (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1972).
See Jacques Maritain, Humanisme intégral. Problèmes spirituels et temporels d’une nouvelle chrétienté (Paris: Aubier, 1936).
Maritain, Humanisme intégral, 75-98.
Luigi Sturzo, “Relazione del segretario politico al primo congresso nazionale del Partito Popolare Italiano”, in Opera Omnia. Vol. 3. Il Partito Popolare Italiano. Dall’Idea al Fatto (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1956).
See Giorgio Galli, Storia della Democrazia Cristiana, 28.
“Freiheit und Sicherheit. Grundsätze für Deutschland”, Platform of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), adopted by the 21st Congress of Hanover, 3-4 December 2007, 2, available on the website “CIVITAS – Forum of Archives and Research on Christian Democracy”, https://civitas-farcd.eu/. [Translator’s Note: Website accessed on 5 February 2016.]
Text cited by Jean-Dominique Durand, L’Europe de la démocratie, 28.
For an overview of the literature on the notion of “secularism” as it is understood in particular in the Anglo-American philosophical tradition, see Kent Greenawalt, Religion and the Constitution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007); Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008); Rajeev Bhargava (ed.), Secularism and its Critics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009); Linell Cady and Elizabeth Hurd (eds), Comparative Secularisms in a Global Age (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2010); Craig Calhoun, Jonathan VanAntwerpen, and Mark Warner (eds), Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010); Craig Calhoun, Mark Juergensmeyer, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen (eds), Rethinking Secularism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); Susanna Mancini and Michel Rosenfeld (eds), Constitutional Secularism in an Age of Religious Revival (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).
For an overview of the literature on the notion of “laïcité” as it is understood particularly in the French philosophical and legal tradition, see Marcel Gauchet, La religion dans la démocratie. Parcours de la laïcité (Paris: Gallimard, 1998); Jean Baudouin and Philippe Portier (eds), La laïcité, une valeur d’aujourd’hui? Contestations et renégociations du modèle français (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2001); Dominique Charlier-Dagras, La laïcité française à l’épreuve de l’intégration européenne: pluralisme et convergence (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2003); Jean Baubérot, Laïcité 1905-2005, entre passion et raison (Paris: Seuil, 2004); J. Baubérot (ed.), La laïcité à l’épreuve; Jean Baubérot and Michel Wieviorka (eds), De la séparation des Églises et de l’État à l’avenir de la laïcité (Paris: Éditions de l’Aube, 2005); Patrick Weil, Politiques de la laïcité au 20e siècle (Paris: PUF, 2007); Jean-Marie Ducomte, Laicité – Laicité(s) (Toulouse: Privat, 2012).
In this regard, it may be important to note that, in some of the writing and documents in the tradition of Christian democratic thought, there are sometimes appropriations of the concepts of “laïcité” and “secularism” that tend to make them more compatible with the idea of a “religious inspiration” of politics. In his speech to the 10th Congress of the Italian CD Party, for example, Flamino Piccoli declared: “Our party is a laic, nonconfessional party of Christian inspiration”. His use of “laïcité” in this context is nonetheless quite different than the one made, for example, in the case law that interpreted the principle of “laïcité” as found in the French Constitution. Thus Piccoli continued his speech as follows: “We certainly cannot disregard the life of the Church. A party of Catholics like the CD has to consider the important cultural and historical events that are Pacem in Terris and Populorum Progressio. Yet the correct way to be positioned in relation to the Magisterium, in politics, is to think about and assimilate what the hierarchy teaches us about principles and eternal truths, while at the same time interpreting the aspirations, needs, and dramas of national society” (cited by Jean-Dominique Durand, L’Europe de la démocratie, 104). In this speech, we find essentially a repetition of the theses presented by Sturzo in the passage quoted above, which however explicitly opposed the idea of “Christian inspiration” of politics and that of a “secular state”. We can therefore speak of a “laïcité” of the ideology of Christian democracy only if we attribute to it a different meaning than the one it usually has. For this reason, in what follows I will treat the idea of the “religious inspiration” of politics as an element of distinction between the ideology of Christian democracy and the notions of “laïcité” and “secularism” as they are normally understood.
See, for example, Jean-Dominique Durand, L’Europe de la démocratie, 137-9; Stathis Kalyvas and Kees Van Kersbergen, “Christian democracy”, 187-97.
See Chantal Delsol, L’État subsidiaire. Ingérence et non-ingérence de l’État: le principe de subsidiarité aux fondements de l’histoire européenne (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2010).
See Kees Van Kersbergen, Social Capitalism. A Study of Christian Democracy and the Welfare State (London: Routledge, 1995).
See Julien Barroche, État, libéralisme et christianisme. Critique de la subsidiarité européenne (Paris: Dalloz, 2012); Jean-Yves Naudet (ed.), La subsidiarité (Aix-en-Provence: Presses Universitaires d’Aix-Marseille, 2014).
See Luigi Sturzo, “Il Panteismo di Stato”, in Opera Omnia. Vol. 4. Political e Morale.
Jacques Maritain, Man and the State (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1998), 53. Phrase in square brackets translated from the French version, L’Homme et l’État (Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, 2009), 70-1.
Luigi Sturzo, “La Nostra Democrazia”, in Opera Omnia. Vol. 4. Political e Morale, 263.
Pius XI, Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno <http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/documents/hfp-xi_enc_19310515_quadragesimo-anno.html>, 79-80. [Translator’s note: Website accessed on 5 February 2016].
Alcide De Gasperi, Idee Ricostruttive della Democrazia Cristiana, full text available at the following address: <http://www.degasperi.net/scheda_fonti.php?id_obj=4496>. [Translator’s note: This passage is translated from the French version of the text. Website under maintenance on 5 February 2016.]
Text available on the website “CIVITAS – Forum of Archives and Research on Christian Democracy”, <https://civitas-farcd.eu/>. [Translator’s note: Website accessed 5 February 2016.]
“Freiheit und Sicherheit. Grundsätze für Deutschland”, 8. [Translator’s Note: This passage is translated from the article author’s French translation.]
The same thesis was subsequently set out in greater detail by Guido Gonella, the assistant to Alcide De Gasperi, during the 22nd Social Week of Italian Catholics in Milan, in the autumn of 1948, specifically in relation to the process of European integration: “Christianity”, he declared, “is the strongest catalyst for restoring the spiritual unity of Europe: its innate universalism, its synthetic power, its ability to bring together East and West, to resist the forces of division, and to work towards integration, make it essential to establishing a true spirit of solidarity between individuals and peoples” (cited by Jean-Dominique Durand, L’Europe de la démocratie, 151).
Luigi Sturzo, “Lo Spirito della Democrazia”, in Opera Omnia. Vol. 4. Political e Morale, 328.
Jacques Maritain, Man and the State, 178-9.
J. Maritain, Man and the State, 181.
Man and the State, 173.
Man and the State, 180.
Alcide De Gasperi, Idee Ricostruttive.
“Freiheit und Sicherheit. Grundsätze für Deutschland”, 87-8.
See, for example: Andrew Koppelman, “Is it fair to give religion special treatment?” University of Illinois Law Review, 571, 2006, 571-604; Kent Greenawalt, Religion and the Constitution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008); Christopher Eisgruber, Religious Freedom and the Constitution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010); Ronald Dworkin, Religion Without God (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013); Gavin D’Costa, Malcolm Evans, Tariq Modood, and Julian Rivers (eds), Religion in a Liberal State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Cécile Laborde, “Equal liberty, non-establishment and religious freedom”, Legal Theory, 20(1), 2014, 52-77.
See John Rawls, Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993).
This can be seen in the case law of legal regimes that provide an explicit recognition of the principles of laïcité or secularism. In France, for example, the 1905 law of separation between Church and State stipulates: “The Republic of France does not recognize, fund, or subsidize any religion. As a result, starting on the January 1 following the promulgation of the present law, all expenditures related to the exercise of a religion will be removed from the budgets of the State, the departments, and local jurisdictions”. Similarly, in the United States, a well-known controversy has recently arisen over the question of teaching “intelligent design” in public schools. The stakes of this debate are impossible to understand if we do not take into account the interpretation of the “non-establishment” clause of the US Constitution by the Supreme Court as implying a prohibition on any use of public funds for religious education.
This idea is advanced, for example, by Norman Doe, Law and Religion in Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
For scholarly discussions of this jurisprudence, see Carolyn Evans, Freedom of Religion Under the European Court of Human Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); Ronan McCrea, Religion and the Public Order; Susan Carrera and John Parkin, The Place of Religion in European Union. Law and Policy, RELIGARE Working Paper No. 1, September 2010; Norman Doe, Law and Religion; François Foret, Religion and Politics in the European Union.
For scholarly discussions of this doctrine in European jurisprudence, see Howard Charles Yourow, The Margin of Appreciation Doctrine in the Dynamics of the European Human Rights Jurisprudence (Dodrecht: Nijhoff, 1996); Eyal Benvenisti, “Margin of appreciation, consensus, and universal standards”, NYU Journal of International Law, 843, 1998-1999, 843-54; Yuval Shany, “Towards a general margin of appreciation doctrine in international law?” European Journal of International Law, 16(5), 2005, 907-40; Pasquale Annicchino, “How wide is the margin? The United States Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights on religion in public schools”, Annuaire Droit et Religions, 5, 2010-2011, 301-23.
For an overview of the history of this debate, see Gérard Bossuat, “Histoire d’une controverse. La référence aux héritages spirituels dans la Constitution européenne”, Matériaux pour l’histoire de notre temps, 78, 2005, 68-82.
See, for example, Joseph Weiler, Un’Europa Cristiana (Milan: BUR, 2004); Joseph Ratzinger, Marcello Pera, and Senza Radici, Europa, Relativismo, Cristianesimo, Islam (Milan: Mondadori, 2004); George Weigel, The Cube and the Cathedral. Europe, America, and Politics Without God (London: Basic Books, 2006); Wojtek Kalinowski, “L’imaginaire religieux dans la construction européenne”, in Antonela Capelle-Pogacean, Patrick Michel, and Enzo Pace (eds), Religion(s) et identité(s) en Europe. L’épreuve du pluriel (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2008), 297-311.
See, for example, Joël-Benoît D’Onorio, “Dieu dans la Constitution européenne: pour un compromis communautaire”, in Elizabeth Montfort (ed.), Dieu a-t-il sa place en Europe? (Paris: F.-X. de Guibert, 2003); Bérengère Massignon, “L’Union européenne: ni Dieu, ni César”, 3, 2007, 104-11; Lorenzo Zucca, A Secular Europe.
This is how the passage was interpreted by François Foret in Religion and Politics, 28, as well as by Ronan McCrea in Religion and the Public Order, 15.
This phrase was used for the first time in a decision by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Folgero v. Norway, in which the Court established that including a required course called “Christianity, religion, and philosophy” in the curriculum of Norwegian national public education was not necessarily in contradiction with the principle of religious freedom ratified in the European Convention on Human Rights (included as an annex in the founding treaty that governs the functioning of the European Union), “in view of the place occupied by Christianity in the national history and tradition of the respondent State” and that, as a result, the Norwegian government had a “legitimate interest” in ensuring that it be transmitted to future generations. The same phrase was then cited in the judgment of the same Court in the case of Lautsi v. Italy, which confirmed the validity of an Italian administrative statute requiring the display of a crucifix in public elementary school classrooms, on the basis of reasons similar to those concerning the curriculum of the Norwegian national education system. Although here is not the place for an exhaustive analysis of the way in which the principle of religious freedom has been interpreted in European case law, these two judgments may provide an idea of the meaning that European courts have given to “respect” related to the status under national law of churches and religious organizations. The two cases endorsed the active involvement of the state in protecting symbols and in teaching religious traditions to young people. For further analysis of European jurisprudence on this theme, see also Carolyn Evans, Freedom of Religion Under the European Court of Human Rights.
For an overview of the current activities of this organization, visit <http://ec.europa.eu/bepa/index_en.htm>. [Translator’s note: This website is no longer available (5 February 2016). The BEPA was restructured in 2014 to become the European Political Strategy Center (EPSC). More information is available at <http://ec.europa.eu/epsc/>.] For academic articles analyzing these activities in detail, see also: Thomas Jansen, “Europe and religions: the dialogue between the European Commission and churches or religious communities”, Social Compass, 47(1), 2000, 103-12; Kenneth Houston, “The logic of structured dialogue between religious associations and the institutions of the European Union”, Religion, State and Society, 37(1-2), 2009, 207-22.
The research that made this article possible was partially financed by the ERC research project “RESIST” under the direction of Justine Lacroix at the Center for Political Theory at the Free University of Brussels.