Pope looks to expanded Europe for spiritual revival
Pope John Paul II said on Sunday that Europe is suffering a crisis in values and expressed hope that the addition of 10 more countries to the European Union next year would be an occasion for the continent's renewal.
In recent weeks, the Holy Father has decried what he calls Europe's move away from its Christian roots.
"You can't deny, that in these times of ours, Europe is going through a crisis in values, and it is important that it recovers its true identity," Pope John Paul told pilgrims and tourists in the courtyard of his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, a town on a hill near Rome.
"The process of European Union enlargement to other countries cannot deal only with geographical and economic aspects," he said, "but must translate into a renewed harmony of values to be expressed in law and life."
He urged prayers so that the continent "be always aware of its own spiritual vocation and contribute to building solidarity and peace within its own borders and in the entire world."
Of the 10 nations scheduled to join the European Union next year, some, like Malta, Slovakia and the pope's native Poland, are heavily Catholic.
The Vatican has mounted a campaign to persuade EU leaders to include a reference to Christianity's role in Europe in the Union's new constitution, which is being prepared.
Pope hopes new EU entrants renew Europe (Malta Independent)
Pope says Malta will strengthen EU's moral values (Malta Media)
Europe: osservatore, "Either Christian or not (AGI)
Pope: Enlargement is a fresh spirtual source (euobserver.com)
EU snubs Pope with no reference to God (19/2/03)
John Paul II Touts a Way for Europe to Avoid Two Extremes (Zenit)
Pope renews appeal for EU constitution to recognize Christianity's roots in Europe (AP 19/2/03)
19 Aug 2003