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Appeal for Rediscovery of Europe's Christian Roots

Unity Cannot Be Only Economic and Political, Says Pope

VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2004 - Here is a translation of the address John Paul II delivered today before praying the Regina Caeli with 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the day after 10 countries joined the European Union.

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1. These days, Europe is living an important stage in its history: 10 new countries are entering the European Union. Ten nations, which by culture and traditions already felt themselves European, now come to form part of this union of states.

If the unity of European peoples is to be lasting, it cannot be only economic and political. As I recalled in my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, 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. Therefore, despite the crises that have marked the life of the Continent down to our days, its identity would be incomprehensible without Christianity.

2. Precisely for this reason the Church has wished to offer in these years numerous contributions to the consolidation of its cultural and spiritual unity, in particular with the Special Synods for Europe, in 1990 and 1999, respectively. The vital sap of the Gospel can guarantee to Europe a development consistent with its identity, in freedom and solidarity, in justice and peace. 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.

In this important enterprise, 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.

3. In greeting with affection the nations that in these days are welcomed into the European Union, my thoughts go to the numerous shrines that through the centuries have kept alive in each one of them devotion to the Virgin Mary. To the Virgin, Mother of hope, and to the men and women saints that we venerate as patrons of Europe, we entrust the present and future of the Continent.


The Vatican  , VA
Pope John Paul II - Holy See, 661 869-1000



Christian, Pope, EU, Europe

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