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Pope says only ethics can rescue democracy from extinction

Democracy is in danger of deteriorating and disappearing if its foundations are not built on ethics and Christian values, according to Pope John Paul II.

Politicians today must "cultivate those human and Christian values which make up Europe's rich, ideal heritage," he said.

This heritage "gave life to a civilisation which over the centuries fostered the rise of an authentically democratic society," he said on Monday in an address to a national association of Italian city mayors.

"Without ethical foundations, democracy risks deteriorating over time and even disappearing," he said.

Meanwhile it was announced earlier this week that Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the acknowledged leader of the Orthodox world, will visit the Vatican on June 29 and join with Pope John Paul II for an ecumenical liturgical service.

In recent years it has become traditional for the Ecumenical Patriarch to send a delegation of Orthodox prelates to Rome on 29 June, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patrons of the Rome diocese - just as the Vatican sends a delegation to join the Orthodox leader on the feast of St. Andrew, the patron on Constantinople. But the fact that Patriarch Bartholomew himself is making the trip is seen as a significant gesture.

Also from Rome comes the news that the French Bishops have invited the Holy Father to Lourdes for the 150th anniversary of the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

A Vatican delegation headed by Bishop Renato Boccardo, organiser of papal trips abroad, was in Lourdes to study details of the proposed pilgrimage, reported the French Catholic daily, La Croix, last week.

According to the French bishops' conference, the visit would be around 15 August, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes would mark the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX's proclamation of the dogma that Mary was conceived without sin. Whether the pope will actually make the trip will not be known until the Vatican makes an official announcement.

Pope says democracy could disappear if not built on ethics, values (Catholic News Service 26/4/04)
Orthodox Patriarch to visit Vatican (Catholic World News 27/4/04)
French bishops invite pope to visit Lourdes in August (Catholic News Service 23/4/04)

Without Ethics, Democracy Deteriorates, Warns Pope (Zenit 26/4/04)
Pope tackling full schedule of public events (Catholic World News 27/4/04)
More signs of Orthodox-Catholic thaw (The Tablet 24/4/04)

28 Apr 2004