On the "Christian Roots" of a New Europe

John Paul II’s Address at Castel Gandolfo

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today before praying the midday Angelus with pilgrims gathered at the summer papal residence. The address was in Italian.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. Over the last month intense work has been done on the redaction of the new European Constitution, the final version of which will be approved by the intergovernmental conference to be held next October. To this important task, which concerns all components of European society, the Church also feels the duty to make its own contribution.

The Church recalls, among other things, as I noted in the postsynodal apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in Europa,” that “Europe has been widely and profoundly permeated by Christianity” (No. 24). It constitutes, in the complex history of the Continent, 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.

2. 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” (ibid.). Its influence has remained notable also in the modern and contemporary era, despite the strong and widespread phenomenon of secularization.

The Church knows that its concern for Europe flows from its very mission. As depository of the Gospel, it has promoted those values which have made European culture universally appreciated. This heritage cannot be dissipated. On the contrary, the new Europe must be helped “to build herself by revitalizing her original Christian roots” (see n. 25).

3. May Mary, Mother of Hope, watch over the Church in Europe, so that it will be ever more “transparent to the Gospel,” be a place where communion and unity grow, so that Christ’s countenance will shine with all its radiance for the peace and joy of every inhabitant of the European Continent.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father said:]

Today is the centenary of the death of Pope Leo XIII, Vincenzo Gioacchino Pecci. Remembered above all as the Pope of “Rerum Novarum,” the encyclical that marked the beginning of the modern social doctrine of the Church, he developed an ample and articulated magisterium; in particular, he relaunched Thomist studies and promoted the growth of the spiritual life of the Christian people. In this Year of the Rosary, it must not be forgotten that Leo XIII dedicated 10 encyclicals to the rosary. For this great Pontiff, we render fervent thanks today to the Lord.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[Addressing the English-speaking pilgrims, John Paul II said:]

I am pleased to greet visitors from the Dante Alighieri Catholic School in Winnipeg, Canada, and all the English-language pilgrims present today. May these summer holidays refresh you both physically and spiritually.

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