European Convention Urged by Pope to Heed the Spiritual Realm

He Supports Process of Integration That Combines “Unity and Diversity”

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II encouraged the process of European integration but warned that the rejection of the spiritual dimension of the continent might end by excluding believers.

When he received ambassadors of countries that enjoy diplomatic relations with the Vatican, the Pope presented “today’s Europe, which is at once united and enlarged,” as a sign of hope.

“Europe has succeeded in tearing down the walls which disfigured her,” he said at the gathering today. “She has committed herself to planning and creating a new reality capable of combining unity and diversity, national sovereignty and joint activity, economic progress and social justice.”

“This new Europe is the bearer of the values which have borne fruit for two thousand years in an art of thinking and living from which the whole world has benefited,” the Holy Father said. “Among these values Christianity holds a privileged position, in as much as it gave birth to a humanism which has permeated Europe’s history and institutions.”

For this reason, “the Holy See and all the Christian churches have urged those drawing up the future Constitutional Treaty of the European Union to include a reference to churches and religious institutions.”

The Constitution is being written by the European Convention, a forum open to political and civil society, presided over by former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing.

The Pope said: “We believe it desirable that, in full respect of the secular state, three complementary elements should be recognized: religious freedom not only in its individual and ritual aspects, but also in its social and corporative dimensions; the appropriateness of structures for dialogue and consultation between the governing bodies and communities of believers; respect for the juridical status already enjoyed by Churches and religious institutions in the member states of the Union.”

“A Europe which disavowed its past, which denied the fact of religion, and which had no spiritual dimension would be extremely impoverished in face of the ambitious project which calls upon all its energies: constructing a Europe for all!” John Paul II emphasized.

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