France Rejects Reference to God in EU's Constitution BRUSSELS, Belgium France said Monday it could not accept references to God and Christianity in the European Union's constitution. France and Belgium have been most opposed to religious references in the charter. Italy and Poland, backed by Pope John Paul II, want the charter to acknowledge Christianity's role. "I think the text as is, is a balanced one," said French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said. "The text already includes a mention to heritage." The 25 EU foreign ministers set down for a new session of negotiations, one week after talks failed to narrow deep differences over a constitutional draft, which should be finalized by the June 17-18 summit of government leaders. The constitution seeks to simplify decision-making in the EU and prevent a minority of states from blocking decisions. The place of religion in the charter's preamble has been hotly debated since negotiations on the constitution began in early 2002. Foreign ministers from Poland, Italy, Portugal, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and the Czech Republic proposed a "further attention to a reference to the Christian roots of Europe," at an EU meeting to overcome difference on the constitution. "The amendment we ask for is aimed to recognize a historical truth," the seven ministers said in a statement. "We do not want to disregard neither the secular nature [of the EU] ... nor the respect of any other religious or philosophical belief." France wants to stick to the current text, which says the EU draws "inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe." British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, also backing the current text, warned that any mention of Christianity would mean "we have to bear in mind other religions as well."