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Monday, June 14, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 12 JUN 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received participants in the forty-fifth Joint Meeting of the Council of Europe Development Bank, an institution created in 1956 "with an exclusively social vocation, a specialised instrument with which to promote specific policies of solidarity", said the Holy Father. He then went on to express his appreciation for the bank which began by concerning itself "with problems affecting refugees, later broadening its remit to the entire field of social cohesion".

  The Pope then turned his attention to the political problems Europe had to face at the end of last century, asking whether "freedom from totalitarian ideologies has not been used solely for economic progress, at the expense of a more human development". In this context he encouraged the bank, in its interventions in support of Eastern European countries, "to correct any imbalances and favour a process based on justice and solidarity, which are essential for the present and future of Europe".

  In the context of the current economic and financial crisis, the Holy Father recalled how in his most recent Encyclical "Caritas in veritate" he had referred to "the Social Doctrine of the Church and the positive contribution it makes to constructing human beings and society". He likewise highlighted how "the relation between love and truth, if experienced correctly, is a dynamic force that regenerates all inter-personal relationships, bringing real novelty and reorienting economic and financial life to serve man and his dignity".

  "Economy and finance are not ends unto themselves", he went on. "They are a tool, a means. Their exclusive goal is the human being and the complete realisation of his dignity. ... Christianity has enabled Europe to understand that it is freedom, responsibility and ethics that impregnate its laws and corporative institutions. Marginalising Christianity - also by excluding its symbols - would deprive our continent of a fundamental resource which nourishes it and contributes to its true identity. Christianity is, in fact, the source of 'the spiritual and moral values which are peoples' shared heritage', values to which the members of the Council of Europe expressed their firm commitment in the Preamble to the Statue of the Council of Europe".

  Recalling the bank's objectives, Benedict XVI noted how the institution is "a technical instrument which facilitates solidarity, a solidarity which must be experienced in fraternity. ... Fraternity creates spaces for gratuitous action which, though indispensable, are difficult to envisage when efficiency and profit are the only criteria", he said.

  Nonetheless, "Europe has a rich past which has seen the development of a number of economic situations rooted in fraternity. I believe that the Council of Europe Development Bank wishes, in order to experience true solidarity, to respond to this ideal of brotherhood I have just mentioned and to explore areas in which fraternity and the logic of giving can be put into practice. These ideals have Christian roots and they, along with the desire for peace, made it possible for the Council of Europe to be come into being".

  At the end of the address, the governor of the Development Bank presented the Holy Father with a medal of the institution. The Pope thanked him, encouraging the members of the bank to continue to work "courageously and coherently" for the good of Europe.
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