Youth May Hold the Key to Restoring Europe´s Soul

Continent´s Unity Must Go Beyond the Monetary, Says Cardinal

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ROME, APRIL 28, 2002 ( The 10th Symposium of European Bishops concluded that it is crucial to oppose tendencies that hope to «forget or, worse yet, cut the roots with European civilization´s past.»

The meeting, on Europe´s youth, opened last Wednesday with a Mass presided over by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who confirmed the desire of believers to contribute to the building of a new united Europe.

During his homily, the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops lamented that in the convocation of the European Convention, which is discussing the institutional basis of the union, «the communities of believers were not explicitly mentioned.»

Cardinal Re emphasized the position of John Paul II, who warned in January against attempts to marginalize religions during the process of continental integration.

«European unity must go beyond the logic of simple monetary and economic union,» the cardinal said. «The single currency is certainly a decisive step, but Europe needs a soul that will inspire political and economic efforts.»

This is why Christians must be involved in the process, beginning with youth, if «we want» them to have «a profound sense of their own identity,» he emphasized.

«If the bell towers and cathedrals built in Europe all down the centuries end up by being used only as picture postcards, the youth of the Old World, who for centuries represented the fulcrum of cultural and political experiences of the world, will see their humanity seriously impoverished,» he warned.

This same need to give back a soul to the continent, by relying especially on youth, was stressed at the opening of the symposium in the greeting by Bishop Amédée Grab, president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CEEC), promoter of the initiative, and by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian bishops´ conference.

Because of this, young people have been given the possibility to meet directly with bishops.

This is a significant initiative because often «the language of the Church is still not that of the young,» the youthful delegate of the German bishops´ conference, Ute Theisen, said during a press conference.

«Bishops should spend more time with young people, because the Church must understand their ideals and lifestyle to be closer to them,» observed CEEC vice president, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O´Connor, archbishop of Westminster.

The Council of European Churches, which embraces the great majority of Christian confessions of the Old World with the exception of the Catholic Church, was participating in the symposium.

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