Build Up "New Europe," Urges Benedict XVI

Europe Warns of Crisis of Values and Identity

ATICAN CITY, MARCH 25, 2007 - If Europe denies the existence of universal values, the continent will be an apostate from itself even before it will be an apostate from God, says Benedict XVI.

The Holy Father said this Saturday upon receiving in audience the participants of the congress "Values and Perspectives for Tomorrow's Europe -- 50 Years of the Treaty of Rome."

The Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community convoked the congress to mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundations for what is today the European Union.

More than 400 delegates of bishops' conferences, religious orders and congregations, Catholic organizations and movements, and members of other Churches attended the congress, which ended today.

Benedict XVI said: "Is it not a surprise that contemporary Europe, although it wishes to present itself as a community of values, seems more and more to contest the existence of universal and absolute values?

"Does not this unique form of 'apostasy' from itself, even prior to an apostasy from God, lead to doubts about its identity?"

For the Pope it is "a historical, cultural and moral identity before it is a geographic, economic or political one; an identity constituted by an ensemble of universal values that Christianity contributed to forging and which thus gave to Christianity not only a historical but a foundational role for Europe."

"Such values, which constitute the soul of the continent, must remain in Europe in the third millennium as a 'ferment' of civilization," the Pontiff stated.

The yeast

The Holy Father continued: "If they should disappear, how could the old continent continue to have the function of being a 'yeast' for the whole world?

"If, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, the governments of the union desire to 'draw near' to their citizens, how can they exclude an essential element of the European identity, namely, Christianity, with which a vast majority of the citizens continue to identify themselves?"

Benedict XVI observed that on the contrary there is an expansion in Europe of a pragmatism "that systematically justifies compromise on essential human values as if the acceptance of a presumed minor moral evil were inevitable."

He emphasized that "such a pragmatism, presented as balanced and realistic, really isn't, since it rejects that dimension of values and ideals that is inherent in human nature."

The Pope said: "Then, when atheistic and relativistic tendencies are woven into this pragmatism, in the end Christians as such are denied the very right to enter into the public discussion or, at the very least, their contribution is disqualified."

The Bishop of Rome attributed this loss of values and ideals to the demographic crisis which the countries of Europe are now facing, "a road that could carry it to bid farewell to history."

The Pontiff lamented that "one might think that the European continent is in fact losing confidence in its own future."

"But do not tire and do not be discouraged!" Benedict XVI said. "You know that you have the task of contributing with God's help to the building of a 'New Europe,' realistic but not cynical, rich in ideals and free from naive illusions, inspired by the perennial and life-giving truth of the Gospel."


Last Updated ( Sunday, 09 December 2012 )