Vatican City (Fides Service) – “The Good News was and continues to be the source of life for Europe. Although it is true that Christianity cannot be limited to one particular culture instead it dialogues with each in order to orient them all to express the best of self in every field of human knowledge and activity, the Christian roots of Europe are the main guarantee of its future. Can a tree without roots live and grow? Europe, do not forget your history!” This appeal was launched on Saturday 28 June, by Pope John Paul II during the solemn celebrations of first vespers for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul in St Peter’s Basilica, when he promulgated the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Europa.
In his homily the Pope said: “You are the Christ, the Successor of Peter affirms once again with his brother Bishops and the priests and Christian people of Europe and in every corner of the earth. He proclaims this fundamental truth of the Christian faith with vigour and deep joy. Only Christ is the Redeemer of mankind, only Christ is our hope. <Jesus Christ, living in his Church, source of hope for Europe.> This was the theme of the second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Europe, held in the Vatican from 1-23 October 1999. With joy this evening I sign and consign the apostolic Letter Ecclesia in Europa which contains and elaborates that which emerged during that important synodal gathering.”
The Pope then traced the bi-millennial history of Christianity in Europe: “From the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, the Gospel message was radiated by means of the Roman empire, taking root in the many ethnic and cultural ramifications present on the European continent”. The Pope did not fail to mention that “during the centuries, pollution due to the weaknesses and sins of some members of the Church” caused painful divisions which in Europe “harmed the mystical Body of Christ”.
The Pope continued: “However in the 20th century the Holy Spirit prompted a new springtime, made fecund by many martyrs and saints. Profound spiritual renewal followed thanks to the Second Vatican Council. <You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!> Peter’s profession of faith has not been lacking in the Church, despite the difficulties and trials which have marked the bi-millennial journey of the Christian people. The apostolic letter, which this evening I consign symbolically to the bishops, priests and deacons, consecrated men and women, and the lay Catholics of Europe, is a call to renew this adhesion without reserves to Christ and to his Gospel. You alone, Jesus Christ living in your Church, are the source of hope!”. SL (Fides Service 30/6/2003 EM lines 38 Words: 478)