On Europe's Christian Roots

«Return to Yourself»

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LES COMBES, Italy, JULY 24, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with 8,000 people gathered in this Alpine village. The Pope has been here on holiday since July 11.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Tomorrow is the feast of the Apostle St. James, John’s brother, whose relics are venerated in the famous shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, destination of innumerable pilgrims from all over Europe. Yesterday we remembered St. Bridget of Sweden, patroness of Europe. Last July 11, St. Benedict was celebrated, another great patron of the «Old World.» When contemplating these saints, one pauses spontaneously to reflect on the contribution that Christianity has offered and continues to offer to the making of Europe.

I would like to do so by recalling the pilgrimage that the Servant of God John Paul II made in 1982 to Santiago de Compostela where he carried out a solemn «European Act,» in the course of which he pronounced these memorable words: «I, Bishop of Rome and pastor of the universal Church, from Santiago, send to you, age-old Europe, a cry full of love: Return to yourself. Be yourself. Discover your origins. Revive your roots. Revive those authentic values that made your history glorious and your presence beneficial among the other continents.»

John Paul II then launched the project of a Europe conscious of its own spiritual unity, based on the foundation of Christian values. He returned to this them on the occasion of World Youth Day of 1989, which took place precisely in Santiago de Compostela. He expressed the desire of a Europe without borders, which does not disavow the Christian roots from which it sprang and does not renounce the authentic humanism of Christ’s Gospel! How timely this appeal still is, in the light of the recent events of the European continent!

In less than a month, I will also go as a pilgrim to an historical European cathedral, that of Cologne, where young people have made an appointment for their 20th World Day. Let us pray that the new generations, drawing their vital sap from Christ, will be able to be in European society the leaven of a renewed humanism, in which faith and reason cooperate in fruitful dialogue in the promotion of man and the making of authentic peace. We pray for this to God, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, who, as Mother and Queen, watches over the path of all nations.

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

These days of peace and rest have also been disturbed by the tragic news of the execrable terrorist attacks, which have caused death, destruction and suffering in several countries, such as Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Great Britain. While entrusting to divine goodness the deceased, the wounded and their loved ones, victims of such gestures that offend God and man, we invoke the Almighty to stop the murderous hand of those who, moved by fanaticism and hatred, have committed them and to convert their hearts to thoughts of reconciliation and peace.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Pope then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I offer a cordial greeting to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors who join us for this Angelus prayer. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of wisdom, joy and peace.

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