Europes “identity cannot be understood without Christianity,” says Pope

.- After praying the Regina Coeli from his study window with the crowd gathered in St. Peters square the Pope commented on the entrance of 10 countries, including his native Poland, into the European Union, and forcefully reiterated the need to remember that “the history of the formation of European nations goes side by side with evangelization.”

"The unity of European peoples," he said, "if it wishes to be lasting, cannot be just economic and political…the soul of Europe today remains united because it has as a reference point common human and Christian values…Thus, notwithstanding  the spiritual crises that have marked the life of the continent up to our days, its identity cannot be understood without Christianity."

He stessed that it was "precisely for this reason the Church has wished, in recent years, to give a number of contributions to the consolidation of (Europe's) cultural and spiritual unity.”

“Only a Europe which does not remove, but rather rediscovers its own Christian roots can be up to the great challenges of the third millennium: peace, dialogue among cultures and religions, and the preservation of creation,” said the Holy Father.

The Pope noted that as he was speaking,  Mass was being celebrated in Warsaw, by Cardinal Egan of New York and the Polish episopacy, along with various other European bishops, on the occasion of Poland’s entry into the European Union. "Together with you," he said, "I entrust to the wise, just and  merciful Divine Providence the future of Europe, May it grow on the foundation of the love of Christ."

Sunday was also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations which John Paul celebrated by ordaining 26 men to the priesthood earlier in St. Peters Basilica. At the end of his address he said “I turn my special thoughts to all those who are involved in the path of formation to the priesthood and consecrated life, and I ask for prayers for many and holy vocations in the Church."


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