Europe Needs to Rediscover Its Christian Identity, Says Pope

Message to Central European Catholic Day

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 11, 2003 ( In a message for the inauguration of Central European Catholic Day 2003, held in Vienna, John Paul II stressed the contribution that Christianity offers to the continent’s unity.

With the motto «Christ, Europe’s Hope,» the event which opened today at the Cathedral of St. Stephen gathered representatives from Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

In the letter sent to Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, the Pope expressed the hope that the initiative will help Central European Christians to «collaborate patiently in the healing of the wounds of unhappy division on the Continent and to contribute in this way with dynamism to the building of a great, common European home.»

«It is necessary that Europe rediscover and witness its Christian identity to promote those values on which are founded the peace of peoples, social justice and international solidarity,» the letter affirmed.

«If Europe wants to be a harmonious association of human beings and peoples that live with deep respect and mutual benevolence, Christ must inspire this continent,» the Pope added.

The Central European «Katholikentag» will continue over the next months with liturgical celebrations, prayer vigils, symposiums, and meetings for young people held in all the participating nations. It will conclude next May 22-23 with a pilgrimage to the Mariazell Shrine in Austria.

For this reason, bishops have invited the Pope to return to Austria, Vatican Radio reported.

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