Pope Backs Romania's Entry in EU But Warns About Consumerism

Meets with Country's Bishops at Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II encouraged the process of Romania's integration into the European Union, but warned its citizens not to adopt the consumerism and individualism of Western society.



The Pope made this admonition Saturday when he met with the bishops of the former Communist country, whom he received at the conclusion of their five-yearly visit to the Holy See. The Holy Father had met personally with the bishops in previous days.

"The process is taking place of Romania's integration in the larger ambit of the European Union and of the institutions of the Continent," the Pope said. "It is, undoubtedly, a positive fact, although the risk exists of certain ambiguities."

"The impact, with a vision under certain aspects conditioned by consumerism and egoistic individualism, can imply the danger that your fellow citizens will not know how to recognize the values and anti-values of Western society, and will end up by forgetting the Christian riches present in their tradition," John Paul II explained.

"In becoming part of European structures, the Romanian people must remember that not only do they have something to receive, but also a rich spiritual, cultural and historical heritage to offer in benefit of the unity and vitality of the whole Continent," he stressed.

"Forged by harsh historical and recent trials, your communities must know how to maintain solid their adherence to the millennial heritage of Christian values, which they have received form their forefathers and in which they have been established," the Pope continued.

In order to take on this challenge, the Pontiff reminded the Romanian bishops of the particular responsibilities of the lay faithful.

"It will be necessary to form them properly so that they will know how to assume the duty of participating in the edification of society through courageous Christian witness," the Pope concluded.

Most of Romania's 22 million inhabitants are Orthodox; 9.6% are Catholic. It was the first majority-Orthodox country visited by the Pope, in May 1999.

During Saturday's meeting, the Holy Father asked the bishops to promote the dialogue with the Orthodox Church and to form young Romanians in Christian values.