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'Europe, Open Once Again Your Doors to Christ!'

Pope John Paull II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

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Roman Catholic Church Leaders Plea for Recognition of European Christian Heritage

Pope John Paul II (from a speech given to the Italian Parliament on 15 November 2002):

A self-confident and internally cohesive Italy can greatly enrich the other nations of Europe and the world. I wish to share this conviction with you at this time, when the institutional shape of the European Union is being defined and its expansion to include many countries of Central and Eastern Europe appears imminent, as it were sealing the end of an unnatural division. It is my hope that, thanks also to Italy's support, the new foundations of the European 'common house' will not lack the 'cement' of that extraordinary religious, cultural and civil patrimony that has given Europe its greatness down the centuries.

There is a need to guard against a vision of the Continent that would take into account only its economic and political aspects, or that would uncritically yield to lifestyles inspired by a consumerism indifferent to spiritual values.

In this noble assembly, I would like to renew the appeal that in recent years I have made to the various peoples of the Continent: 'Europe, at the beginning of the new millennium, open once again your doors to Christ!'

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (from an interview given on 1 December 2002 to a group of journalists at the Catholic University of St. Anthony, Murcia, Spain):

Q: There is a debate over the inclusion of the word 'God' and references to Europe's Christian past in the preambles of the future [European] Constitution. Do you think there can be a united Europe that has turned its back on its Christian past?

A: I am convinced that Europe must not just be something economic [or] political; rather, it is in need of spiritual foundations.

It is a historical fact that Europe is Christian, and that it has grown on the foundation of the Christian faith, which continues to be the foundation of the values for this continent, which in turn has influenced other continents.

It is imperative to have a foundation of values and, if we ask ourselves what that foundation is, we realize that, beyond the confessions, there are no others outside the great values of the Christian faith. And this is why it is imperative that in the future Constitution of Europe mention is made of the Christian foundations of Europe.

I do not wish to fall into the error of constructing a political Catholicism. The faith does not provide political recipes, but indicates the foundations. On the one hand, politics has its autonomy, but on the other there is no total separation between politics and faith. There are foundations of the faith that later allow for political reasoning. The question, therefore, is what are these foundations that will enable politics to function? What are the aspects that must be left free?

In the first place, it is critical to have an anthropological moral vision, and here faith enlightens us. Is the person of God necessary to have this anthropological vision, which guarantees the freedom of political reasoning?

A morality that dispenses with God, fragments, and, therefore, at least the great intuition that there is a God who knows us and who defines the figure of man as an image of God, belongs to these foundations. Moreover [to mention God] is not an act of violence against anyone, it does not destroy anyone's freedom, but opens to all the free space to be able to construct a truly human, moral life.

Read the address of Pope John Paul II to the Italian Parliament.

This article can be found on the Orthodox Europe website. Reprinting allowed.



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