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Friday, November 7, 2003


VATICAN CITY, NOV 7, 2003 (VIS) - The Pope today welcomed 200 participants in a seminar organized by the Robert Schuman Foundation, including 120 former stagiaires or trainees of the foundation. In a speech to them in English, he noted that the group's namesake spent his 'political life in the service of the fundamental values of freedom and solidarity, understood fully in the light of the Gospel.'

'As Christians engaged in public life,' he remarked, 'you have come together to reflect on the prospects currently opening up before Europe,' including the building of the 'new' Europe which 'means finding a proper balance between the role of the (European) Union and that of the member States, and between the unavoidable challenges which globalization presents to the continent and the respect of its historical and cultural distinctiveness, the national and religious identities of its people, and the specific contributions which can come from each member country.'

The Holy Father stated that 'for this to happen, it is necessary that Europe recognize and preserve its most cherished patrimony, made up of those values which have and continue to guarantee her a providential influence in the history of civilization. ' Many cultural roots have helped to solidify these values, yet it is undeniable that Christianity has been the force able to promote, reconcile and consolidate them. For this reason it seems logical that the future European constitutional treaty, aimed at achieving 'unity in diversity', should make explicit mention of the Christian roots of the continent. A society forgetful of its past is exposed to the risk of not being able to deal with its present and ' worse yet ' of becoming the victim of its future!'

'In this regard,' John Paul II added, 'I am pleased to note that many of you come from countries preparing to enter the Union, countries for which Christianity often provided decisive assistance on the path towards freedom.' From this standpoint you can also easily see how unjust it would be for today's Europe to conceal the pivotal contribution made by Christians to the downfall of oppressive regimes of whatever stripe and to the building of authentic democracy.'

The Pope pointed out that 'the complaints often made against political activity do not justify an attitude of disengaged skepticism on the part of the Catholic, who instead has the duty of assuming responsibility for the well-being of society.'

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 7, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, apostolic nuncio in Zimbabwe.

- Bishop Jesus A. Cabrera of Alaminos, the Philippines on his 'ad limina' visit.

- Bishop Anthonisamy Neethinathan of Chingleput, India on his 'ad limina' visit.

- Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 7, 2003 (VIS) - On the occasion of the eighth public session of the Pontifical Academies, which took place yesterday in the Vatican, the Pope sent a message to Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Coordinating Council for the Pontifical Academies.

In the message, made public today and dated November 3, the Holy Father writes that 'the theme of the public session, 'Martyrs and Monuments to their Memories, Living Stones in the Building of Europe,' offers a singular key to understanding the historical change that we are living through in Europe. It means we must discover the profound link between yesterday and today's history, between the evangelical testimony courageously offered by so many men and women in the first centuries of the Christian era and the testimony, also in our times, that many believers in Christ continue to offer to the world to reaffirm the supremacy of Christ's Gospel and of charity.'

'If the memory of Christians who sacrificed their life to reaffirm their faith is lost, the modern age with its projects and ideals, would lose a precious component since human and religious values would no longer be supported by concrete testimony, manifested in history.'

After emphasizing that 'persecution is fortunately no longer a problem' in Europe, John Paul II says that Christians, 'together with all men and women of good will, are called to build a true 'common house,' which is not only a political and economic edifice but also a 'house' rich with memories, values, spiritual contents. These values have found and continue to find in the Cross an eloquent symbol that embodies and expresses them.'

At the end of the Message, the Pope entrusts Cardinal Poupard with the task of bestowing this year's prize of the Pontifical Academies upon Giuseppina Cipriano for her paper, 'Mausoleums of the Exodus and Peace in the Necropolis of El-Bagawat. Reflections on the Christian origins of Egypt.' In addition, he asks him to give the pontifical medal to Sara Tamarri for her work, 'Iconography of the Lion from Late Antiquity to Medieval Times.' The Pope congratulates the winners on their work, 'which underscores the value of archeological, liturgical and historical patrimony, to which the Christian culture owes so much and from which it can still draw elements of authentic humanism.'

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