.- On two different occasions on Saturday and Sunday, Pope John Paul insisted in the need for preserving Europe’s Christian roots in the midst of current tendencies to ignore them.
On Saturday, the Pontiff welcomed 2,000 Slovaks, accompanied by Cardinals Jan Korec and Jozef Tomko and by the President of Slovakia Rudolf Schuster, on the feast of Cyril and Methodius, the Slav brothers and saints who are patrons of Slovakia and co-patrons of Europe.
“The witness of these two great apostles of the Slavs is a strong reminder to rediscover the roots of the European identity of your people, roots that you share with other nations on the continent,” said the Pope.
“Slovakia and Europe of the Third Millennium,” he underscored, “have become enriched by many cultural contributions but it would be deleterious to forget that Christianity contributed in a decisive manner to the formation of the continent.”
On Sunday, during the recitation of the Angelus, Pope John Paul again highlighted the influence of Christianity throughout Europe’s history.
“It would be impossible to think of European civilization without the work and legacy of St. Benedict, just as one cannot fail to mention the evangelizing and social work of the two brothers from Salonika,” said the Pontiff, again speaking about Cyril and Methodius.
Speaking about the countries from Eastern Europe that will be included in the European Union in May, the Pope said that “these are nations that bear a specific cultural and spiritual richness: in them Christianity exercised an extraordinary cohesive force, with respect for their particular characteristics.”
“The encounter between the Gospel and culture allowed Europe to become a ‘laboratory’ where, over the centuries, significant and lasting values have been consolidated. Let us pray that, in our days, the universal message of Christ, entrusted to the Church, will be the light of truth and a source of justice and peace for the peoples of the Continent and of the entire world,” he concluded.