"Europe has also experienced and suffered from terribly misguided courses of action. These have included: ideological restrictions imposed on philosophy, science and also faith, the abuse of religion and reason for imperialistic purposes, the degradation of man resulting from theoretical and practical materialism, and finally the degeneration of tolerance into an indifference with no reference to permanent values. But Europe has also been marked by a capacity for self-criticism which gives it a distinctive place within the vast panorama of the world's cultures."
Build a Culture of Life
The Pope then turned his attention to "the fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, [which] is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right."
In this context, the Holy Father made an appeal to politicians "not to allow children to be considered as a form of illness, ... to do everything possible to make European countries once again open to welcoming children," and "to favor conditions enabling young couples to raise children. Yet," he added, "all this will be pointless, unless we can succeed in creating once again in our countries a climate of joy and confidence in life, a climate in which children are not seen as a burden, but rather as a gift for all."
He went on: "Another great concern of mine is the debate on what has been termed 'actively assisted death.' ... The proper response to end-of-life suffering is loving care and accompaniment on the journey towards death, especially with the help of palliative care."
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Europe: Become a Christian leader in the world
"Europe will grow more sure of itself if it accepts a responsibility in the world corresponding to its singular intellectual tradition, its extraordinary resources and its great economic power. The European Union should therefore assume a role of leadership in the fight against global poverty and in efforts to promote peace."
The countries of Europe and the European Union "need to make their political importance felt, for example, with regard to the urgent challenges presented in Africa, given the immense tragedies afflicting that continent, such as the scourge of AIDS, the situation in Darfur, the unjust exploitation of natural resources and the disturbing traffic in arms. Nor can the political and diplomatic efforts of Europe and its countries neglect the continuing serious situation in the Middle East, where everyone's contribution is needed to promote the rejection of violence, reciprocal dialogue and a truly peaceful coexistence."