European Union Cannot Be Reduced to a Market, Cautions Pope

Receives Grand Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says the European Union cannot be reduced to a simple economic organization but must be a community that highly values respect for human dignity and peace.



The Pope made this appeal today when he received in audience the Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg. The duchy, which has just under 500,000 inhabitants, is 86% Catholic.

"The building of the European Union cannot be limited to the fields of the economy and the organization of the market," the Holy Father said in his address.

"It must promote a model of society that honors the fundamental dignity of the whole person and his rights, that favors relations based on justice, mutual respect and peace among human beings and peoples," he added.

The "religious dimension of man and nations, whose importance cannot be ignored, allows people to express their profound being, to recognize their origin in God, and to understand the meaning of their actions in terms of mission and responsibility," the Pontiff explained.

"We have the duty to make everyone who lives on our continent and enjoys economic wealth and the benefits of peace, recognize the inalienable value of our common humanity and the responsibility we have for the plight of every human being, especially those who suffer from poverty, disrespect of dignity, or those who know the trial of war," John Paul II said.

"I am happy that today many European youths thirst for the spirit of the beatitudes and are ready to accept them more and more in their life," the Pope concluded.

During his meeting, the Holy Father asked his guests to convey his greetings to Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte, assuring the duchess of his prayers for her health.

In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union), and in 1999 it joined the euro currency area.