Pope Says Church Will Work to Maintain Europe's Spiritual Tradition

At General Audience, He Evaluates Visit to Spain

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Evaluating his weekend trip to Spain, John Paul II said that the Church will do everything possible to maintain the Christian values that forged Europe.

«This fifth apostolic trip to Spain has confirmed a profound conviction in me,» the Pope said at today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square. «The old nations of Europe retain a Christian spirit, which constitutes a whole with the genius and history of the respective peoples.»

«Unfortunately, secularism threatens the fundamental values,» he added, «but the Church is determined to work continually to maintain alive this spiritual and cultural tradition.»

This is why the Pope wished to take to Spain, and to young people in particular, the message reflected in Christ’s words: «You will be my witnesses.»

John Paul II said he «exhorted the Christians of Spain to remain faithful to the Gospel, to defend and promote the unity of the family, to preserve and renew continually the Catholic identity that is the nation’s source of pride.»

«It will be in virtue of the perennial values of its tradition that that noble country will be able to make its contribution to the construction of the new Europe,» he affirmed.

The Holy Father recalled the highlights of his visit to Madrid: the vigil on Saturday afternoon which drew more than 700,000 young people, and the canonization Mass the next day which attracted 1 million pilgrims.

Those were bigger than the crowds he attracted during his first four visits to Spain, including World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela in 1989. The unexpectedly large turnouts last weekend surprised the Spanish media, which gave extensive coverage to the papal visit.

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