"New Europe" Must Turn to Christian Roots, Says John Paul II

Urges That Continent’s Religious Heritage Be Guarded

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- With a European Constitution on the geopolitical horizon, John Paul II stressed the importance of helping “the new Europe … to build herself by revitalizing her original Christian roots.”

Addressing the faithful gathered today to pray the Angelus in the courtyard of the papal summer residence here, the Pope quoted from his apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in Europa,” saying that “Europe has been widely and profoundly permeated by Christianity.”

In fact, “in the complex history of the Continent,” Christianity constitutes “a central and qualifying element, which has gradually consolidated itself on the foundation of the classical heritage and on the diverse contributions made by successive ethnic-cultural currents in the course of the centuries,” he explained.

“It can be said that the Christian faith has shaped the culture of Europe constituting a whole with its history and, notwithstanding the painful division between East and West, Christianity has become the religion of the European peoples,” the Pope added.

Speaking of the influence of Christianity in the modern and contemporary era, “despite the strong and widespread phenomenon of secularization,” the Holy Father urged that this heritage not be “dissipated.” Rather, the “new Europe must be helped to build herself by revitalizing her original Christian roots.”

In this connection, the Pontiff explained that the Church’s concern for Europe springs from “its very mission.” As “depository of the Gospel, it has promoted those values which have made European culture universally appreciated.”

In the intense work of the revising of the European Constitution, “which concerns all components of European society,” he said, “the Church also feels the duty to make its own contribution.”

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