Pope Appeals to Europe to Be a "Union of Spirit"

Reminds Christians of Duty to Aid Development of Peoples

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 17, 2004 (Zenit.org).- More than being a geographic entity, Europe is called to be «a union of spirit,» John Paul II said in a message sent to the participants of the 95th Day of German Catholics.

Through Sunday, the city of Ulm, in the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, is hosting the national lay event, promoted by the Central Committee of German Catholics in collaboration with the diocese.

The event includes 800 activities, including Masses, times for prayer, theatrical and musical performances, workshops, and round-table discussions. Some 30,000 people are expected to attend.

In his message, the Pope said that the «manifestations of this great meeting of Catholics encourage you to raise your voices when there is an argument about the essentials of the Christian faith and human coexistence.»

The meeting is a double celebration of faith and an occasion to reflect on key topics such as bioethics, ecumenism, Europe and globalization, the Holy Father indicated.

After mentioning that Ulm is on the banks of the Danube, which joins Eastern and Western Europe, the Pope said that «in the last decades there has been an increasing awareness of a European identity and of an affinity of European peoples.»

«Europe is not an accidental union of states which have only a geographic nexus,» John Paul II wrote. «Despite all its cultural differences, Europe must become increasingly a union of the spirit, based on human and Christian values.»

«Therefore, let us take advantage of the possibilities of a united Europe for a better dissemination of the Gospel of Christ, so that no man will be deprived of God’s saving offer!» he exhorted.

The Holy Father said that Europe «needs even today the contribution of Christians and of Christianity for the proper development of its peoples.»

The continent needs «a qualitative leap in awareness of its spiritual heritage» but «such an impulse cannot come to it except from a renewed listening to the Gospel of Christ,» he added, referring to the postsynodal apostolic exhortation «Ecclesia in Europa,» No. 20.

The Pope added: «Whoever wishes to live from the strength of God and in this strength desires to build together a society, must propose this task to himself at all times and in all places.»

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