Rorate Caeli

The Unbelievable Post-Conciliar World
Bishops against constitutional declaration of their nation as "Christian"

Before Gaudium et Spes and Dignitatis Humanae:

Rather do We pledge to you anew the renewed efforts of all Our Catholic children in the building up of the Christian Nation of Zambia, by their ever more generous contributions towards the religious, social and cultural progress of its citizens.
Paul VI
November 7, 1964 

After Gaudium et Spes and Dignitatis Humanae:

[Aug. 20, 2012] Lusaka (Agenzia Fides) - The Bishops of Zambia hope that the current process of constitutional revision is successful after the previous three unsuccessful attempts to write a new Constitution.

In a document sent to the technical committee in charge of writing the new Constitution (which was sent to Fides Agency), the Bishops present some contributions which in their view should become part of the new Charter. First, it rejects the introduction of rules that provide for death penalty and abortion.

"In the preamble, the declaration that Zambia is a Christian nation should be omitted" the document states. "That is because - explain the Bishops - a Country cannot practice the values and precepts of Christianity, by a mere declaration. The principle of separation between State and Religion must not be lost. If Zambia is a multi-religious Country, a fact that was recognized in the preamble of the first draft of the Technical Committee, to say that Zambia is a Christian nation would be in contradiction with this fact."

A Constitution does not have to be merely descriptive of a unanimous sentiment - it can be aspirational. There is nothing wrong with describing in law a Christian-majority nation, marked by Christian values, as a "Christian nation", and the legal position of non-Christian minorities need not be affected by it. Was it not merely a few years ago that the Holy See did all it could to include a mere mention of the "Christian roots" of Europe in the draft of a Constitution for the European Union?  (A failed attempt, certainly, but then the text went down in flames in the French and Dutch referendums before being reworked as the Treaty of Lisbon, still with no "Christian roots"...)

If some political forces wish to lead the charge against this (which is not the case), that would be quite fine, but it should not be the bishops. The crisis of the Church truly is a crisis of bishops...