Protest sign in Dublin, 21 July 2008/Philippe WojazerDid the Irish reject the European Union’s Lisbon treaty last June because they are “losing their Christian memory?” Cardinal Seán Brady, the top Catholic cleric in the once staunchly Catholic country, thinks that can partially explain the vote.

The cardinal told a conference in County Mayo on Sunday that many Christians in Europe think the EU bases its values on a lowest common denominator that “invariably coincides with the secular and relativist tradition within Europe – that which denies moral absolutes with an objective basis – rather than the religious view.”

They think the EU is suffering from what the late Pope John Paul called a “loss of Christian memory,” he said, according to reports in the Irish press. As Brady put it:

“Successive decisions which have undermined the family based on marriage, the right to life from the moment of conception to natural death, the sacredness of the Sabbath, the right of Christian institutions to maintain and promote their ethos, including schools – these and other decisions have made it more difficult for committed Christians to maintain their instinctive commitment to the European project.”

The Irish Times noted Brady contrasted the EU to the United States, where he was pleased to see presidential candidates openly talking about their faith.