Gospel Can Aid Europe's Future, Pope Tells Christian Groups

In Message to Participants at Ecumenical Meeting in Stuttgart

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STUTTGART, Germany, MAY 9, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Gospel is not just a treasure of Europe's past -- it is above all a help for its present and future, says John Paul II.



The Pope sent that message to the participants in the first meeting of Christian Movements and Communities, held Saturday in Stuttgart with the theme "Together Pro-Europe." Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, read the message to the participants.

The meeting gathered 10,000 Catholics, evangelicals, Orthodox and Anglicans, and was linked to 158 European cities by satellite. The event in part celebrated the entry of 10 new countries into the European Union.

The Holy Father began his message by saying that the steps that are being taken in the process of European integration are due to the commitment of the "Fathers" of Europe, the great majority of whom were Christians, who understood the need for reconciliation in the Old World in the wake of World War II.

However, the Pope added that the Christian faith is not something that forms part of the European past. "It also represents the present and the future of Europe," he said.

"In the commitment to bring about a more humane society, open to others and solidaristic in love, we must not cease to open our hearts to the Gospel," the Pope exhorted the movements and communities.

"Ecumenical dialogue contributes decisively to develop a European identity based on the Christian faith," he said.

To this end, "thanks to a careful and respectful dialogue, the movements offer an important contribution to consolidate among Christians the Lord's commandment of love."

The papal message concluded: "The new evangelization gives a soul to Europe and helps the Continent not to continue living for itself, enclosed in its borders, but to build a more humane society that respects life, and to have a generous presence on the world scene."