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Monday, July 25, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JUL 24, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today, prior to praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI addressed some remarks to the 8,000 people who had gathered to hear him in an open area near his holiday chalet of Les Combes in Italy's Valle d'Aosta.

  The Holy Father recalled that tomorrow is the feast of the Apostle James, "whose relics are venerated in the famous shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the destination of countless pilgrims from all over Europe. Yesterday we marked the day of St. Bridget of Sweden, patroness of Europe, and on July 11 we celebrated the feast of St. Benedict, another great patron of the 'old continent.' Contemplating these saints, it is natural to pause and reflect on the contribution that Christianity has made, and continues to make, to the building of Europe.

  The Pope continued by recalling the pilgrimage made by "Servant of God John Paul II in 1982 to Santiago de Compostela, where he performed a solemn 'European act' during which he pronounced these memorable words: 'I, bishop of Rome and pastor of the Universal Church, from Santiago, address to you, old Europe, a cry full of love: Return to yourself! Be yourself! Discover your origins. Revive your roots. Experience again those authentic values that made your history glorious and your presence in other continents beneficial."

  Benedict XVI pointed out how, on that occasion, John Paul II launched "the project of a Europe aware of its own spiritual unity, based on the foundation of Christian values. He returned to this theme on the occasion of World Youth Day 1989, held at Santiago de Compostela, expressing his hope for a Europe without frontiers, a Europe that does not deny the Christian roots from which it grew and that does not renounce the true humanism of Christ's Gospel. How appropriate this call remains today in the light of recent events on the European continent."

  The Pope then affirmed that in less than a month's time he will make a pilgrimage "to a historic European cathedral, that of Cologne, where young people have an appointment for their 20th World Day. We pray that the new generations, drawing their vital lymph from Christ, many know how to be leavening in European society for a renewed humanism, one in which faith and reason cooperate in a fruitful dialogue for the promotion of man and the construction of true peace."

  In comments following the Marian prayer, the Pope made reference to recent bomb attacks: "Even these days of serenity and repose have been disrupted by the tragic news of the execrable terrorist attacks which have brought death, destruction and suffering to various countries such as Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Great Britain. As we entrust to divine goodness the dead and injured and their loved ones, victims of gestures that offend both God and man, we call on the Almighty to block the murderous hand of those who, driven by fanaticism and hatred, committed these acts, and we ask that He convert their hearts to thoughts of reconciliation and peace."
ANG/CHRISTIAN ROOTS:ATTACKS/LES COMBES                VIS 20050725 (530)

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