Europe must not forget the lessons of oppression, Pope cautions

Europe must not forget the lessons of oppression, Pope cautions


A younger generations of Europeans that never experienced totalitarian regimes risks losing the lesson their parents learned under persecution: God alone is the source of true happiness. Pope Benedict offered this counsel this morning as he received the credentials of the new ambassador from Lithuania to the Holy See.


This morning at the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Vytautas Alisauskas, the new ambassador of Lithuania to the Holy See and listened to the new diplomat speak about the “need for modern Europe to draw upon the tradition that flows from the teaching of the Gospel.”


The Holy Father then offered Ambassador Alisauskas a message of challenge and encouragement. Noting how "in recent centuries, the faith of the Lithuanian people has sustained them through periods of foreign domination and oppression, and has helped them to preserve and consolidate their identity,” the Pope said that Lithuanians must not forget this truth.


"Now that the Republic has regained its independence," he added, "it can offer moving testimony to the values which enabled its people to survive those difficult years.”

Above all, the belief which must not be lost is the “deep conviction that true happiness is to be found in God alone,” the Pope said. Those who have survived this type of regime, “know that any society which denies the Creator inevitably begins to lose its sense of the beauty, truth and goodness of human life."


Pope Benedict then turned his attention to how a generation has grown up in Eastern Europe "which did not share in that experience of totalitarian government, and tends therefore to take its political freedom for granted.” The great disaster that Europeans must seek to avoid is abandoning their hard won belief in God in a modern society that is increasingly fragmented and morally confused.


The Holy Father proceeded: "It is both a paradox and a tragedy that in this era of globalization, when the possibilities of communication and interaction with others have increased to a degree that earlier generations could scarcely have imagined, so many people feel isolated and cut off from one another. This gives rise to many social problems which cannot be resolved on the political plane alone.”


Besides political efforts, the Church must play a vital role in building “a civilization of love.” This is made possible, Benedict explained, because “'love of God leads to participation in the justice and generosity of God towards others,' the practice of Christianity leads naturally to solidarity. ... It leads to a determination to serve the common good and to take responsibility for the weaker members of society, and it curbs the desire to amass wealth for oneself alone. Our society needs to rise above the allure of material goods, and to focus instead upon values that truly promote the good of the human person."


Pope Benedict told the ambassador that the field of cooperation for Lithuania and the Holy See is broad. It contains the “defense of marriage and family life, to the protection of human life from conception to natural death, and to the promotion of sound ethical practices in medical and scientific research: practices which are truly respectful of the dignity of the human person. We can promote effective solidarity with the poor, the sick, the vulnerable, and all those on the margins of society.”


"These values will strike a chord with all those, especially the young, who are seeking answers to their profound questioning about the meaning and purpose of life. They will resonate with all who are anxious to discover the truth that is so often obscured by the superficial messages propagated by post-modern society,” the Pontiff assured.


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