Holy Father Describes His Ideal Europe

Awarded Charlemagne Prize by German City of Aachen

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 24, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II expressed his dream for a Europe without "egotistic nationalisms," a continent that promotes peace and family life.



"I think of a Europe without egotistic nationalisms, in which nations are considered as living centers of a cultural richness that is worthy of being protected and promoted for the benefit of all," the Pope said today when receiving the Charlemagne Prize.

The international prize of recognition was awarded to the Holy Father by the German city of Aachen.

The city's mayor, Jürgen Linden, and the president of the prize's Executive Council, professor Walter Evershein, presented the award in a ceremony held in the Vatican.

John Paul II said in his address: "I think of a Europe in which the achievements of science, economics and social welfare are not directed to senseless consumption but are at the service of every man in need and of solidaristic aid for those countries trying to reach the goal of social security."

"May Europe, which in history has suffered so many bloody wars, be able to become an active agent of peace in the world!" the Pope exclaimed.

"I think of a Europe whose unity is based on authentic freedom. Freedom of religion and social liberties have matured as precious fruits on the 'humus' of Christianity. Without freedom, there is no responsibility, neither before God nor before men," he continued.

"How can a youthful generation be born that is open to truth, to beauty, to nobility, to what is worthy of sacrifice, if in Europe the family no longer appears as an institution open to life and to selfless love?" the Holy Father asked.

"A family of which the elderly also form part promoting what is most important: the active transmission of values and of the meaning of life," he said.

"The Europe I am referring to is a political unit, more than that, a spiritual unit, in which Christian politicians of all the countries act with the awareness of the human riches that faith contributes: men and women committed to having these values be fruitful, putting themselves at the service of all for a Europe of man, in which the face of God will shine," John Paul II said.

The Charlemagne Prize was awarded to the Pope to pay tribute to his life's work promoting European understanding in the service of humanity and world peace.

The official reason for the award states: "Pope John Paul II is a prominent and exemplary model of the European values for people throughout the world, embodying in his life respect for the dignity and freedom of humankind, for equality, solidarity and a sense of responsibility for one's fellow human beings. More than any other, he stands for the inalienable nature of human rights and of peace."