Pope Urges Spain to Lend Its Catholic Values to a New Europe

Gives a Message of Peace Upon Arrival in Madrid

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MADRID, Spain, MAY 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II expressed hope that Spain will contribute the legacy of its Catholic values to the construction of the new Europe.

«Peace be with you, Spain!» the Pope said as he arrived Saturday at Madrid’s Barajas airport. Several hundred people were on hand to greet him, on his fifth apostolic visit to the country.

«Peace, which is the work of justice, truth, love and solidarity; peace that peoples only enjoy when they follow the dictates of the law of God; a peace that makes men and peoples feel like brothers toward one another,» the Holy Father said.

Among those present at the welcoming ceremony were King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, Spanish cardinals and bishops, and Prime Minister José María Aznar.

«I implore from the Lord for Spain and for the whole world a peace that is fruitful, stable and lasting, as well as coexistence in unity, within the marvelous and varied diversity of its peoples and cities,» the Pope added.

He said he always follows «the vicissitudes of Spain» with intense interest and satisfaction, given «its progress for the well-being of all.»

«The process of a nation’s development,» he added, «should be founded on genuine and permanent values, which seek the good of every person, subject of rights and duties, from the first instant of his existence and reception in the family, and in the subsequent stages of his insertion and participation in social life.»

These are the values that Spain must contribute to the construction of a new Europe, according to the Pope.

«Europe, return to yourself. Be yourself. Revive your roots!» John Paul II said, recalling the words he pronounced during his first trip to Spain in 1982.

«I am certain that Spain will contribute the rich cultural and historical legacy of its Catholic roots and values to the integration of a Europe that, from the plurality of its cultures and respecting the identity of its member states, seeks a unity based on criteria and principles in which the integral good of its citizens prevails,» the Holy Father said.

Lastly, the Pontiff illustrated the reasons that led him to convoke the two key events of his visit.

In the meeting with hundreds of thousands of young people on Saturday afternoon in the Cuatro Vientos air base, he said he wished to «enter into contact with those who are called to be protagonists of the new times.»

«I have full confidence in them and I am sure that they have the will not to let down God, or the Church, or the society from which they come,» the Pope explained.

The Holy Father went on to mention the canonization Mass planned in Madrid’s Columbus Square.

«They knew how to accept the invitation of Jesus Christ: ‘You will be my witnesses,'» he said of the five Spaniards he was to canonize.

«In this historic moment,» the Pope added, «they are a light on our way to live the faith with courage, to foster love of neighbor, and to continue with hope the construction of a society based on peaceful coexistence and the moral and human uplifting of every citizen.»

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