Christian Roots Are Europe's Foundation of Freedom, Says Pope

Message to 17th Meeting of Prayer for Peace

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AACHEN, Germany, SEPT. 8, 2003 ( As Europe advances in its process of union, John Paul II again urged the continent not to forget its Christian past.

“The Christian roots are not a memory of religious exclusiveness, but a foundation of freedom because they make Europe a melting pot of different cultures and experiences,” the Pope said in a message for the 17th International Meeting of Prayer for Peace. The event is being held here through Tuesday.

From “these ancient roots,” the Holy Father wrote, “the European peoples have obtained the impulse that drove them to touch the limits of the earth and to reach the depth of man, of his intangible dignity, of the fundamental equality of all, of the universal right to justice and peace.”

The Pope sent his message for the event to Cardinal Roger Etchegaray. The meeting, entitled “Men, Religions and Peace,” was organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio. It attracted 500 religious leaders from around the world and thousands of others.

John Paul II wrote that the city of Aachen “speaks clearly of the ancient tradition of Europe: It speaks of its ancient roots, beginning with the Christian, which harmonized and also consolidated the rest.”

Because of this, while the process of enlargement goes forward, Europe “is called to find this energy again by recovering its awareness of its deepest roots,” the Pope said. “It is not healthy to forget them. To simply presuppose them is not enough to inflame souls. To silence them withers hearts.”

He continued: “Europe will be that much stronger for the present and future of the world the more it drinks from the sources of its religious and cultural traditions.”

According to the Pontiff, the religious and human wisdom accumulated by Europe over the centuries is a patrimony that can be used “in the growth of the whole of humanity.”

He expressed his conviction that Europe “anchored solidly in its roots, will accelerate the process of internal union and offer its indispensable contribution to progress and peace among all peoples of the earth.”

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