In his address to the head of the delegation to the Holy See of the Commission of the European Communities on 19th October, the Pope referred to the values of the European Union which, he said, “are the fruit of a long and complex history in which, it cannot be denied, Christianity has played a primordial role. The equal dignity of all human beings, the freedom of expression of faith as the basis of all other civil liberties, peace as a decisive element of the common good, human development (intellectual, social and economic) as a divine vocation and the sense of history deriving therefrom, are all central elements of the Christian revelation that continues to mould European civilisation”.
“When the Church mentions the Christian roots of Europe”, the Holy Father went on, “she does not seek a privileged status for herself. She wishes to enact historical memory, first and foremost by recalling a truth which is suffering ever greater neglect: the decisively Christian inspiration of the founding fathers of the European Union”. Furthermore, “she wishes to make it clear that the legacy of values comes chiefly from Christian heritage, which continues to nourish Europe today. These values are not some anarchic or random assembly, rather they form a coherent whole which is historically ordered and regimented on the basis of a precise view of mankind”.
The Holy Father then went on to highlight the risk of such values being “manipulated by individuals and pressure groups who seek to make their particular interests prevail to the detriment of an ambitious collective project, which is what Europeans hope to see and which aims at the common good of all inhabitants of the continent, and of the whole world”.
“It is important”, he went on, “that Europe does not allow her model of civilisation to fray, thread by thread. Her generosity must not be stifled by individualism or utilitarianism. The immense intellectual, cultural, economic riches of the continent will continue to bear fruit so long as they are nourished by a transcendental view of human beings, which is the greatest treasure of European heritage. This mainly involves the search for a just and delicate balance between economic efficiency and social needs, the protection of the environment and, above all, the indispensable and necessary support for human life from conception to natural death, and for the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman”.
Europe will not truly be itself, said the Holy Father, “if she does not conserve the originality which constitutes her greatness and which tomorrow may make her one of the main players in promoting the integral development of peoples, something the Catholic Church considers as being the only possible way to remedy the imbalances of our world”.
Benedict XVI assured the new head of delegation that the Holy See “follows the activities of European institutions with great respect and attention, and hopes that, with their work and creativity, they may honour Europe which, more than a continent, is a ‘spiritual home'”. “The Church”, he concluded, “wishes to ‘accompany’ the construction of European unity. For this reason she takes the liberty of recalling the fundamental and constituent values of European society, that they may be promoted for the good of everyone”