Europe's Unity Needs Christian Values, Pope Says

A Day After 10 Countries Join the Union

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2004 ( A day after 10 new countries joined the European Union, John Paul II urged that the political integration of the Continent be based in part on Christian values.

On Saturday, Poland, Cyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and the Czech Republic entered the European Union, a goal that 25 years ago seemed impossible.

Yet, for the Pope this «important stage of history» is also a cause of concern, he said before he prayed the midday Regina Caeli today with 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

«If the unity of European peoples is to be lasting, it cannot be only economic and political,» he said in a tired voice, after a long Mass at which he ordained 26 new priests.

The Holy Father repeated the appeal he made in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in November 1982: «Europe’s soul continues to be united today because it makes reference to common human and Christian values.»

«The history of the formation of the European nations advanced to the rhythm of evangelization,» he said. «Therefore, despite the crises that have marked the life of the Continent down to our days, its identity would be incomprehensible without Christianity.»

«The vital sap of the Gospel can guarantee Europe a development consistent with its identity, in freedom and solidarity, in justice and peace,» the Pope said.

«Only a Europe that does not eliminate but rediscovers its Christian roots will be able to address the great challenges of the third millennium: peace, dialogue between cultures and religions, the safeguarding of creation,» he added.

The Holy Father ended with an appeal to Christians of all confessions: «In this important enterprises, all believers in Christ of the West and East of Europe, thanks to their open and sincere cooperation, are called to offer their own contribution.»

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