On Christ as the Source of Hope for Europe

John Paul II’s Address at Castel Gandolfo

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 13, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. At this historic moment, in which an important process is under way for the reunification of Europe, through the enlargement of the European Union to other countries, the Church observes this continent with a look full of love. Along with many lights, some darkness is not lacking. A certain loss of Christian memory is accompanied by a certain fear to face the future; a widespread fragmentation of life is often joined to the spread of individualism and a growing weakening of interpersonal solidarity. We are witnessing a certain loss of hope, at the root of which is an attempt to make an anthropology prevail without God and without Christ. Paradoxically, the cradle of human rights risks the disappearance of its foundation eroded by relativism and utilitarianism.

2. In the postsynodal apostolic exhortation «Ecclesia in Europa,» which I promulgated June 28, I wished to take up again these topics of urgent importance, debated at length in the course of the synodal assembly of October 1999. «Jesus Christ, Alive in His Church, the Source of Hope for Europe» is the proclamation that believers incessantly renew, aware of the enormous possibilities that the present moment offers but, at the same time, aware of the «grave uncertainties at the levels of culture, anthropology, ethics and spirituality» (No. 3).

«European culture gives the impression of ‘silent apostasy’ on the part of people who have all that they need and who live as if God does not exist» (No. 9). Hence, the greatest urgency Europe is facing «in both East and West, is a growing need of hope, a hope which will enable us to give meaning to life and history and to continue on our way together» (No. 4).

3. However, how can such a profound yearning for hope be satisfied? It is necessary to return to Christ and to start afresh from him. In the exhortation I wrote that the Church can offer Europe the most precious good that no one else can give: namely, faith in Jesus Christ, «source of hope that does not disappoint» (No. 18).

May Mary, dawn of a new world, watch over the Church in Europe and make it ready to proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of hope.

[Translation by ZENIT]

At the end of the Angelus, when greeting pilgrims in different languages, the Holy Father said the following in English:

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. May your time here at Castel Gandolfo and in Rome be filled with joy and deepen your love of the universal Church. Upon you all, I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you all!

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