CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 24, 2003 ( John Paul II urged those putting the final touches on the European Constitution to recognize explicitly the Christian roots of the continent, which he called the "guarantee of a future."

The Pope made this proposal, which he has repeatedly emphasized for months, when he met today with several thousand pilgrims gathered at the papal summer residence to pray the Angelus.

The "Catholic Church is convinced that the Gospel of Christ, which has been a unifying element of European peoples during many centuries, continues to be, also today, an inexhaustible source of spirituality and fraternity," the Pope said in his greeting.

"To take this into account is to the advantage of all, and to recognize explicitly in the treaty the Christian roots of Europe becomes for the continent the principal guarantee of a future," he added.

The proposed draft treaty establishing a constitution for Europe, written by the European Convention, is being studied by the governments of the member states. It is expected to be completed and approved during an intergovernmental conference this October in Rome.

The draft proposal mentions "the cultural, religious and humanist heritage" of the continent, but makes no explicit reference to Christianity.

Addressing the pilgrims, John Paul II mentioned the "determinant role" of the Old World's institutions, not only of the European Union, but also of the Council of Europe, and the European Court of the Rights of Man, "which carry out the noble task of creating a Europe of liberties, justice and solidarity."

The Pope also referred to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which he said "is dedicated to promoting the cause of the fundamental liberties of persons and nations of the continent."

Lastly, the Holy Father said that he follows "in prayer the laborious progress of the constitutional treaty" and trusts "that all those who are dedicating their energies to it will always be moved by the conviction that a proper ordering of society must be rooted in authentic ethical and civil values shared as widely as possible by its citizens."

The Pope hopes "that in the construction of the Europe of today and tomorrow that spiritual inspiration will not be neglected which is indispensable to operate in an authentic way in the service of man. Such an inspiration finds in the Gospel a sure guarantee in favor of the freedom, justice and peace of all, believers and nonbelievers."

This was the seventh Sunday that John Paul II expressed his concerns and hopes for the new Europe, stressing various aspects of the postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in Europa."