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POPE-EUROPE Oct-19-2009 (380 words) xxxi

Pope says Europe needs Christian values to prosper, help others

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If European unity is based only on geography and economics, it cannot succeed in promoting the common good of all Europe's citizens and in helping the rest of the world, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The recognition of the dignity of the human person and the obligation to work for the common good -- values Christianity fostered on the continent -- are what inspired the movement toward European unity and are the only guarantee of its success, the pope said Oct. 19 in welcoming Yves Gazzo as the new head of the European Commission's delegation to the Holy See.

Gazzo defined the European Union as a "zone of peace and stability which comprises 27 states with the same core values."

Pope Benedict said the European Union did not bring those values to the 27 member countries, "but rather it is these shared values that have given birth to and were like a gravitational force" that drew the countries together and inspired them to form a union.

"When the church recalls the Christian roots of Europe, it is not seeking a special status for itself," the pope said. Instead, it is calling Europeans to remember that the values that brought peace to the continent and freedom and dignity to its people must be allowed to continue nourishing it.

"The immense intellectual, cultural and economic resources of the continent will continue to bear fruit as long as they are fertilized by the transcendent vision of the human person, which is the most important treasure of European heritage," he said.

The European Union is right to promote a better economic situation and improved social conditions for all the continent's people, the pope said, but the values shared by most Europeans have a broader scope.

Joint efforts are needed to safeguard the environment and, especially, to give "the vital and necessary support to human life from conception to natural death and to the family founded on marriage between one man and one woman," he said.

"Europe will not truly be herself if she cannot keep the originality that made her great," the pope said. He encouraged the continent to promote the "holistic development of people that the Catholic Church considers to be the only way to remedy the imbalances present in our world."

END


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