Visit to the Czech Republic

Holy Father makes strong case for role of the Gospel in the public square

Pope Benedict and Czech President Vaclav Klaus
Pope Benedict and Czech President Vaclav Klaus


This afternoon in Prague, continuing with his Apostolic visit to the Czech Republic, Pope Benedict XVI strongly defended the role of the Christianity in Europe’s history and the need to guarantee full freedom for the Gospel to contribute to building the future of Europe.


In a discourse delivered to local political authorities, diplomats from all over Europe, rectors of local universities and representatives of the civil society, the Pope recalled that his visit  “coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the totalitarian regimes in Central and Eastern Europe, and the ‘Velvet Revolution’ which restored democracy to this nation.”


Nevertheless, “today, especially among the young, the question again emerges as to the nature of the freedom gained. To what end is freedom exercised? What are its true hallmarks?”


“Freedom,” the Pope explained, “seeks purpose: it requires conviction. True freedom presupposes the search for truth – for the true good – and hence finds its fulfillment precisely in knowing and doing what is right and just. Truth, in other words, is the guiding norm for freedom, and goodness is freedom’s perfection.”


“For Christians,” the Holy Father highlighted, “truth has a name: God. And goodness has a face: Jesus Christ.”


Pope Benedict then happily noted that the Christian roots of the country “have nourished a remarkable spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation and cooperation which has enabled the people of these lands to find freedom and to usher in a new beginning, a new synthesis, a renewal of hope.”


“Is it not precisely this spirit that contemporary Europe requires?” he then asked. “Europe is more than a continent. It is a home! And freedom finds its deepest meaning in a spiritual homeland.”


Pope Benedict then explained that “with full respect for the distinction between the political realm and that of religion, which indeed preserves the freedom of citizens to express religious belief and live accordingly, I wish to underline the irreplaceable role of Christianity for the formation of the conscience of each generation and the promotion of a basic ethical consensus that serves every person who calls this continent, "home!”


The Pope also stressed that “far from threatening the tolerance of differences or cultural plurality, the pursuit of truth makes consensus possible, keeps public debate logical, honest and accountable, and ensures the unity which vague notions of integration simply cannot achieve.”


“At the present crossroads of civilization," he continued, "so often marked by a disturbing sundering of the unity of goodness, truth and beauty and the consequent difficulty in finding an acceptance of common values, every effort for human progress must draw inspiration from that living heritage.”


“Europe,” the Pope said, “in fidelity to her Christian roots, has a particular vocation to uphold this transcendent vision in her initiatives to serve the common good of individuals, communities, and nations.”


“Do not the challenges facing the human family call us to look beyond those dangers?” Pope Benedict asked, later replying: “we must reappropriate a confidence in the nobility and breadth of the human spirit in its capacity to grasp the truth, and let that confidence guide us in the patient work of politics and diplomacy.”


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