In a message for the occasion of the Social Weeks of France, held from September 23 to 26 in Lille, whose theme was “Europe, participating in building up a society to be invented,” Pope John Paul II emphasized that Christian values will help Europe grow as a continent and build up European society.
The Pope’s message, addressed to Cardinal Roger Etchegaray and made public on Saturday, stated that the centenary of the Social Weeks "is an occasion to discover once again the great tradition of the social Magisterium of the Church and the many saints that have characterized the European continent from the first centuries.”
He wrote that “saints such as Benedict, Cyril and Methodius, Boniface, Thomas More, the martyrs of Pontons de Rochefort, Edith Stein, Maximillian Kolbe, Brigid of Sweden; they all gave testimony that the Gospel and Christian values are a fertile terrain for the life of persons and peoples, as well as for building up society."
After recalling that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of France, the Holy Father says that this date "brings us back to the scandal that wars represent." These years, he continues, "have been characterized by many gestures of reconciliation and by the desire to make the continent a Europe of brothers and sisters."
Concerning Europe, the Pope points out that true integration, "in order to preserve all its richness, must preserve national cultures and identities, which are part of the common heritage and contribute to the growth of the entire continent."
The Pope emphasizes that an opening between Eastern and Western Europe "invites Europeans to intensify the relation of cooperation between north and south, to block the scourges of misery, epidemics, all types of conflicts.”
“In the face of these urgent matters,” he conitnued, “we are called to participate in a truly lasting development which goes through the channel of international cooperation founded on partnership and solidarity, and which is concerned with preserving the riches of the land and with making all peoples beneficiaries of the resources of the planet through just and equal distribution."
"In this spirit," the Pope’s message concludes, "the presence of Christians in society constitutes a true testimony. ... The commitment of Christians in politics is important. I invite them not to flee from their mission in this field, always seeking coherence between the Gospel, divine and apostolic tradition, the Magisterium of the Church, and the options they choose and decisions they are called to make."