The New Evangelization - Europe


 

INSTRUMENTUM LABORIS
Synod of Europe II


INDEX

PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

PART I :EUROPE TOWARDS THE THIRD MILLENNIUM

PART II: JESUS CHRIST ALIVE IN HIS CHURCH

PART III: JESUS CHRIST HOPE FOR EUROPE

ANNOUNCING "THE GOSPEL OF HOPE: MARTYRIA

CELEBRATING "THE GOSPEL OF HOPE: LEITOURGIA

SERVING "THE GOSPEL OF HOPE": DIAKONIA

CONCLUSION

ENDNOTES


JESUS CHRIST ALIVE IN HIS CHURCH
SOURCE OF HOPE FOR EUROPE


PREFACE

The Second Special Assembly for Europe, to be celebrated 1 - 23 October 1999 at the close of the Second Millennium, is the last in the series of continental synods, culminating a period of preparation characterised by some significant moments, i.e., the consultation for arriving at a synod topic, followed by the Holy Father's approval of its formulation and the publication of the Lineamenta with its series of questions, sent to the interested parties, including the various episcopal conferences of Europe (16 March 1998). The publication of the present "working document" or Instrumentum laboris, taking into account the responses to the initial document, constitutes the final phase in the preparatory process for the synod.

From all accounts, the announcement of the celebration of the Second Special Assembly for Europe generated great interest among the local Churches on the continent as well as in the Universal Church. This is seen in the many responses and observations to the Lineamenta which arrived at the General Secretariat. Many local Churches took full advantage of the preparatory period and the Lineamenta document to devote time and prayer to a common reflection on various aspects of the synod topic, thereby ensuring the rich content of the Instrumentum laboris.

During the Fifth Meeting of the Pre-Synodal Council, held in Rome, 16 - 18 March 1999, the Pre-Synodal Council, in possession of all the material submitted to the General Secretariat from the preparatory stage, proceeded, with the help of experts from Europe, to propose a final draft of this working document. At this meeting, the members studied the initial draft composed on the basis of the responses and structured according to the main topics suggested in the questions of the Lineamenta. The observations of the members of the Pre-Synodal Council at this meeting were then incorporated into the various parts of the final text, which was later submitted to the Holy Father for his approval.

In arriving at a text which reflected the contents of the responses and observations, three aspects were given consideration, all of which are found in some form in the definitive text: 1) shared points of view 2) contrasting aspects and 3) possible oversights in the responses. Moreover, it is worthwhile to state that the document contains not only the above points but also those subjects which, according to the responses, should receive further examination and development. In these cases, even though they may not be given an extensive treatment in the present text, they are mentioned so as to become part of the agenda for treatment in synodal discussion.

The Instrumentum laboris, presented in English, French, German and Italian, is structured according to the logical progression of ideas in the synod topic: "Jesus Christ, Alive in His Church, the Source of Hope for Europe".

Following this plan, the working document is composed of an Introduction and three major parts whose headings reflect the main aspects of the topic. These three sections are further divided into sub-headings treating related subjects. The document ends with a brief conclusion .

The Introduction begins by describing the present context in which the Synod is being held and compares it to that in which the previous synod took place.

Part I–Europe towards the Third Millennium–presents abundant material for the necessary discernment of "the signs of the times". It sets forth not only the changes which have occurred in Europe in the last decade, with their causes and reasons for hope, but also the disappointments, the risks and concerns which accompany these changes. It likewise examines some questions emerging as a result of present-day happenings in Europe. In considering the cultural roots underlying this new situation and the details and analysis of related phenomena, this section concludes by suggesting that the question of man, and more specifically the "question of faith", might be the central and determining factor in discussion.

Part II–Jesus Christ, Alive in His Church–describes the essential underlying elements of an authentic, life-giving faith. A key element to the document, this section insists that restoring and regaining hope is possible only if it arises from faith in the Risen Christ; only if the need for Christ, present in each man and woman, is recognised; only if a person believes and professes that Jesus is the one and only Saviour; and only if, on the basis of viewing the Church in her profound reality of "mystery" and "communion", a person is clearly aware that Jesus Christ and the Church are one.

Part III–Jesus Christ the Hope of Europe–describes how encountering Jesus Christ is the basis of the Church's mission and the mission of each disciple. Some preliminary suggestions are then made on how the Church can restore hope to Europe today. Each suggestion urges a genuine, courageous inquiry into demonstrating the Church's need to know how to recognise and welcome the presence and action of Christ and his Spirit, that she might truly reflect the face of Christ continually being fashioned in her, and that she be a true place of communion. Three sections follow on the mission of the Church–martyria, leitourgia, diakonia. To stimulate discussion and possible debate, each section presents ways in which the Church can announce, celebrate and serve "The Gospel of Hope" in Europe today. Under proclamation and witness, there is treated the subjects of the new evangelization, ecumenism and dialogue with the Jews and other religions as well as the topic of the sects. In speaking of celebration, the suggestion is made to examine people's awareness of the Lord's presence in the liturgy and in today's liturgical practices. Finally, in referring to service, emphasis is placed on the witness of charity, the duty of building communion and solidarity, some pastoral areas requiring particular attention and the responsibilities and activities in constructing a new Europe.

After commemorating the martyrs of Europe in this century and the importance of keeping their memory alive so as to bring about a new hope in Europe and recalling the presence of Mary as Mother of Hope in the construction of the New Europe, the text concludes by presenting the relationship between the Special Assembly and the Jubilee of the Year 2000.

The present Instrumentum laboris is meant to assist in the synodal assembly's work and to provide assistance in the immediate preparation of its participants. Moreover, it is intended to point out the main issues under discussion in the local Churches in Europe. In this way, the document offers timely guidance in the work of discernment awaiting the Pastors in their responsibility and charism to keep watch over the times, to examine the signs, to gather what the Spirit is saying to the Churches and to indicate the steps to be taken in the future. It will also provide occasion for a beneficial "examination of conscience". Above all, the document offers suggestions for discussion and analysis on some essential ways of restoring hope to Europe today. These ways will become evident through rediscovering and re-affirming faith in Jesus Christ, alive in his Church, as the one who alone can give a sure hope to each man and woman and to every people and nation, and through ascertaining the conditions and approaches which permit the Church to fulfill her mission of announcing, celebrating and serving "The Gospel of Hope".

The information contained in the Instrumentum laboris, resulting from the responses sent to the General Secretariat, is now being returned to the bishops of Europe who are to participate at the Special Assembly for their immediate personal preparation, which includes choosing specific points to be treated in their intervention during the synod. Since the Holy Father has been pleased to make this document public, all bishops in Europe might wish to utilise it to revitalise their particular Churches and to foster the participation of the faithful in the synod process.

By its very nature, the Instrumentum laboris is a work document. It should not be seen in any way as anticipating the conclusions of the synodal assembly, although the consensus that emerges on certain points in the answers will no doubt be reflected in the results of the synod.

It is my fervent hope that Our Lady, present with the disciples in the Upper Room, will guide these final preparations and be with the members during the work of the synod so that this assembly might bring many to Christ, alive in His Church, the Source of Hope for Europe and lead to a fresh dynamism in the work of evangelisation of the European continent as the Church moves towards crossing the threshold of the Third Millennium.

Jan P. Cardinal SCHOTTE, c.i.c.m.
General Secretary


INTRODUCTION

 

Two Synods for Europe

1. In 1991, when the First Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops was celebrated, the continent found itself in a situation of new-found unity. Shortly thereafter, many peoples of Europe began to experience a period of great freedom; it was almost like coming out of the catacombs or a kind of "passage through the Red Sea" (cf. Ex 14:21-30).

Great was their Hope. The Holy Father observed that "a common sentiment seems to dominate the great human family. Everyone wonders what future to construct in peace and solidarity. ... Walls have crumbled. Borders have opened. ... An earthly messianism has crumbled and the thirst for a new justice is springing up in the world. A great hope has been born of freedom, responsibility, solidarity and spirituality. Everyone is calling for a new fully human civilisation in this privileged hour in which we are living. This immense hope of humanity must not be disappointed...(1) That moment was "ripe to gather up the stones of the walls that have been torn down and to build together a common home.(2)

At the same time, people urgently needed to see what this new-found freedom actually meant. The basic question, illustrated in the topic of the First Special Assembly for Europe, Ut testes simus Christi qui nos liberavit, was concerned with the proper conception of freedom. The Church, along with all Christian Churches, is called to bear witness to this freedom, announce it and build it up, keenly aware that such freedom can only be the freedom which Christ has gained. As a result, the Church's response must be a "new evangelisation".

The First Special Assembly–born of a realisation that a particularly historic moment was occurring in Europe, a moment which brought grace, newness and a call from God–came to be seen as a privileged moment of encounter among the bishops. It was also an experience of the Church's catholicity which provided opportunity to reflect more attentively on what that historic moment had in store for Europe and the Church. In this way, the synod examined the signs of the times and used them in indicating the path to follow in a reciprocal exchange of gifts in the work of evangelisation into the Third Millennium.

The Church had the clearly marked path of bringing "the liberating message of the Gospel to the men and women of Europe once more.(3) The single task facing the Church was the "new evangelisation." Jesus Christ alone is the true liberator of humanity; only he can indicate the proper way to follow in Europe's new-found freedom.

2. Today, 8 years after that event, Europe's situation could be described as a unity in peril. "Can we not say that after the collapse of one wall, the visible one, another, invisible wall was discovered, one that continues to divide our continent–the wall that exists in people's hearts? It is a wall made out of fear and aggressiveness, of lack of understanding for people of different origins, different colour, different religious convictions; it is the wall of political and economic selfishness, of the weakening of sensitivity to the value of human life and the dignity of every human being. Even the undeniable achievements of recent years in the economic, political and social fields do not hide the fact that this wall exists. It casts its shadow over all of Europe. The goal of the authentic unity of the European continent is still distant.(4)

Many people believed that the extraordinary events of 1989 would radically change history and that Europe's dramatic situations and divisions would be a thing of the past. Instead, the years which followed brought similar events to its peoples in various parts of the continent. Now, on the eve of the Third Millennium, the European continent, despite the great signs of faith and witness and an atmosphere undoubtedly more free and unified, is showing signs of weariness which historical events–recent and past–have brought about deep within the heart of its peoples, often causing disappointment. As a result, there is a great risk that hope will grow weak. The question to be faced today, then, is how to restore a lost hope, not in a superficial and passing way but in a more profound, solid and enduring manner.

Once again, the challenge is to return to the Gospel; in the conviction that "there will be no European unity until it is based on unity of the spirit. This most profound basis of unity was brought to Europe and consolidated down the centuries by Christianity with its Gospel, with its understanding of man and with its contribution to the development of the history of peoples and nations.(5) What was taught in the past is also true today–that "the wall which today is raised in people's hearts, the wall which divides Europe, will not be torn down without a return to the Gospel.(6)

3. The Second Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops is situated in this context. Announced by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II in Berlin, this synod is one in the series of continental synods celebrated in these years as part of the preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.(7) After taking up again and developing what emerged in the previous Special Assembly for Europe, after examining all that has taken place in the meantime, after carrying out an attentive work of discernment and after maintaining a commitment to the reciprocal exchange of gifts, the Second Special Assembly's fundamental aims are to analyse the situation of the Church in Europe in view of the Jubilee, to indicate ways in which the immense spiritual reserves of the continent can fully develop in all areas and to foster a new proclamation of the Gospel, thus creating the basis for an authentic religious, social and economic rebirth.(8)

Above all, the synod is to seek to profess that "Jesus Christ, alive in his Church, is the Source of Hope for Europe" and to proclaim "hope believed against hope" (cf. Rom 4:18). Through an attentive reading of the present moment, the synod intends to indicate the many "signs" and "seeds" of hope in Europe and to restore hope to the Church community as she professes her faith in the Lord Jesus.

The "hope" under consideration is "theological hope". It is not an optimism which provides motivation to get things done or achieve goals, nor is it a basic trust in the innate goodness of the European cause–though in its own way this can have a positive stirring influence. Instead, it is a hope which takes account of everything, risks of failure as well as hard work. Basically, it is a hope founded in God; it is the theological virtue which recognises that the loving presence of Christ overcomes all things and ensures victory; it is the hope of an Abraham and a Paul which remains firm in the time of crisis. It is the hope which "hopes believing against hope" in the certainty that God is faithful, does not renege on his promises and, in Jesus and with the force of the Spirit, does not abandon humanity, society and the world, but makes himself a travelling companion on life's journey, lights the path and gives strength and sustenance in the work to be done.

4. Running through the entire text are repeated references to the episode of the two disciples at Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35), used as an "interpretive icon" of the present-day situation of Europe. Like the two disciples, many persons in Europe, in contrast to the euphoric spirit which characterised the years of celebration of the First Special Assembly of the Synod, now seem to be disheartened and dispirited because of unfulfilled expectations. They now look to the future with uncertainty and little hope. Such persons, like the disciples on the evening of the first Easter Sunday, need to encounter the risen Lord, alive in his Church, to make "their hearts burn" and permit them "to go off again without delay" and return to what is presently happening in European history so as to continue to transform the whole continent into a place where all can live together, without exclusion and barriers, in acceptance, solidarity and peace.

This is the service which Christians and the particular Churches can render in the construction of a new spirit for Europe, capable of looking beyond its interests and confines so as to offer to the whole world a new contribution of civilisation, wisdom and peace.


PART I

EUROPE TOWARDS THE THIRD MILLENNIUM

 

For a discernment of the "signs of the times"

5. The two disciples "were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all the things that had happened" (Lk 24:13-14). Since they were so totally a part of that historical event, they could not be indifferent. Instead, they looked to what was happening around them and allowed the events to pose questions for them: in fact, "they were talking and discussing together" (Lk 24:15). At the same time, however, their path is marked with sadness–"and they stood still looking sad"(Lk 24:17)–and a loss of hope–"we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel (Lk 24:21). Fundamentally speaking, the situation is one of a loss of faith: "Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognising him" (Lk 24:15-16). St. Augustine comments: "They said, 'we were hoping that he was the redeemer of Israel.' O disciples, you were hoping; does this mean that you no longer have hope? Behold, Christ lives but your hope is dead! Indeed, Christ is alive; but the living Christ finds the disciples' hearts without life.... Having lost faith and hope, they walked with the Living One but themselves were lifeless. The dead accompanied Life itself. Life walked with them, but life did not as yet return to their hearts.(9)

The two disciples can be taken as a symbol of the many women and men in Europe today. They can also be used to symbolise the whole European continent which hoped in the Lord in the past and which, indeed, is not abandoned by him in the present. However, at this moment Europe appears to be lost, confused, adrift and with its hope in peril. In addition to this general state of affairs, many Christians seem to have lost their faith or limit it to certain traditions or live it superficially in some form of religious practice.

Discerning the Signs of the Times

6. The bishops meeting in Synod as heads of their local Churches and faithful to their prophetic mission, sense the need to "question themselves" on how to discern the signs of the times and interpret them in light of the Gospel.(10) They will "talk about what is happening in Europe", but, unlike the disciples of Emmaus, they will do it by allowing themselves to be questioned and enlightened by the presence of the Lord and his Word which they know is with them, their Churches and the entire continent on their journey.

This already took place at the First Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops, convoked by the Holy Father to reflect on the significance of that historic moment. The events of 1989 required the synod to turn its attention to Europe and the Church so as to read the signs of the times and to discuss what path to follow,(11) through seeking to understand both what the Spirit of Christ was saying to the Church through past experiences and the path he was indicating for the future.(12)

The task of discernment, however, did not end with the celebration of that Synod, because such a work is always incumbent on the Pastors of the Church. Nevertheless, in light of the changes and new situations which came about as a result of historical events, the task presented itself with renewed urgency. The Holy Father himself stated that "Christians must seize the opportunities offered to them by the kairos of the present moment and show themselves equal to the emerging pastoral challenges of the concrete historical situation.(13)

The Synod, therefore, feels bound to give particular attention to the historical events which have taken place in Europe in recent years and to the trends affecting it at present. This attentive look is one of discernment and critical judgment, capable of presenting both positive and negative aspects and of indicating the path to follow so that the continent of Europe might not betray its identity or fall short of its responsibilities. In this way, it can find hope again. Therefore, it is a matter of taking a look at Europe–after the example and teaching of the Holy Father–with love and empathy, a look which is proper to someone who recognises, appreciates and values each positive element of progress encountered, forcefully denounces what is incoherent with the Gospel and never tires of suggesting and pointing to further goals to be achieved.

The "Res Novae" in the Europe of the Last Decade

7. Despite the fact that only ten years have passed since 1989 and some people might think of the events which took place at that time as the distant past, the influence of those events on European life and the local Churches in Europe is still being felt.

Undoubtedly, in the wake of these events, significant changes have taken place in the life of the particular Churches.

Eight years ago, the synod pointed out that the Church in the East and West "shows a new vigour, particularly in biblical and liturgical renewal, in the active participation of the faithful in parish life, in new experiences of community and in the revival of prayer and the contemplative life, besides many forms of voluntary work on behalf of those who are poor and rejected.(14) The presence of small communities, new groups and ecclesial movements is also significant. Besides giving rise and favouring a revitalisation of the faith, these provide experiences which foster ecclesial communion and have often "brought to the Church's life an unexpected newness which is sometimes even disruptive":(15) various persons have been overtaken and guided by the charisms stirred up by the Spirit towards "new ways of missionary commitment to the radical service of the Gospel, by ceaselessly proclaiming the truths of faith, accepting the living stream of tradition as a gift and instilling in each person an ardent desire for holiness.(16)

Particularly in former iron-curtain countries, the gentle winds of freedom and the proclamation of human rights allowed a new-found freedom in activities for the Church who had lived "in captivity" for decades. Despite the tiring work and difficulties involved in reconstructing a world wounded by dictatorship and an erroneous system of life whose effects are seen mostly in the area of interior growth, significant witness was demonstrated by these Churches and the plans undertaken by them appeared full of promise in responding to the great need of "recuperating" at all levels their religious and cultural patrimony, oppressed and neglected for a long time, and of enriching it with the conciliar and post-conciliar magisterium.

At the same time, negative phenomena, primarily in Western Europe–such as materialism, consumerism, hedonism and cultural and religious relativism–have also had an effect on the peoples of Eastern Europe, making the work of local Churches more difficult. Some apprehension also exists in particular Churches in Eastern Europe towards those in the West that they will not be able to carry on a relationship and dialogue "on an equal basis" and that they will lose the influence which they have earned through oftentimes heroic sacrifices. At times, it was not easy for men and women religious from Western Europe, sent to the particular Churches in the East, to understand local situations and to work in collaboration with various Church people working in the territory. The passage from a Christianity lived in oppression to that lived in a climate of freedom exposed weaknesses in certain areas, resulting in negative effects on vocations, especially in countries where they were once plentiful.

8. Numerous and significant changes have also taken place on the cultural, social and political level.

For the last ten years Europe has been experiencing a process which can, in some cases, be likened to the re-founding of States and entire societies, a process which, generally speaking, is a politico-institutional transition still incomplete and unfortunately marked in the past and present by forms of bloody conflict. In many countries, it is a transition which concerns discovering the proper manner of exercising freedom and democracy after years of Communist dominance. In other countries, with the crisis and weakened state of the Communist block, such a transition is marked by changes in the political order. As a result of the ongoing fragmentation of the Catholic world in the wake of various choices by political entities, the particular Churches have been required–and are still being required–to seek new relations and forms of presence. This same process of transition has also brought about new ideas, peoples and nations on the continental and world scene with all that this signifies in the realms of a correct interpretation of the rights of people and entire nations.

Furthermore, the fall of the iron curtain has produced, for the first time in a decade, the possibility of direct contact with countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Immediately thereafter, an influx of migration from Eastern Europe occurred in addition to those from the South and various countries of Africa and Asia. Migration is presently continuing with the influx in the West of people from the East and in the northern hemisphere of those from the south. The poor and the homeless from numerous ex-iron curtain countries as well as those from Africa and Asia immigrate to cities of Western Europe, in many cases in an illegal manner. This influx in populations is creating numerous cultural and social problems in Europe which need to be attentively discerned and faced with responsibility. Each year there results an ever-increasing pluralism in ethnic, cultural, religious and social areas. These situations constitute a challenge for the local Churches who seek to respond, not without difficulty, through renewed initiatives of welcome and solidarity and attempts at interreligious and inter-cultural dialogue.

It is impossible here not to mention the more general phenomenon of globalisation which interests the peoples and governments of Europe because of their involvement in the process.

In more recent years, the phenomenon is causing an acceleration in the unification and integration of member-countries into the European Union to the point of establishing a single currency. Participation in this process has allowed many peoples in Europe, perhaps for the first time, to experience in concrete terms on the national level the effects of an increase of institutions particularly European, thus replacing a simply rhetorical and distant vision of Europe as a continent. In this regard, further developments have taken place in relations, dialogue and consultation between European institutions and the Catholic Church (through the Commission of the Episcopates of the European Community) and among the local Catholic Churches on the entire continent (by means of the Council of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe), structures which appear fundamental to the participation of the Church in the construction of a New Europe.

It is not difficult to see how the present historic moment places Europe again at a crossroad where the construction, union and evangelisation of the continent are appearing as fundamental challenges. At the same time, sufficient evidence points to the fact that the present phase of European history–as recalled on many occasions by the Holy Father–though characterised by significant changes and many problems, affords also possibilities in evangelisation as well as in living and working together.(17) In other words, the present moment is an important juncture for the hopes and concerns which the Synod has the task to discern with responsibility.

Opportunities and Reasons for Hope

9. The present phase of European history offers many reasons for hope, even if at times concerns and disappointments seem to appear. What is needed is to discover the "seeds and signs of hope" and know how to value them.

Generally speaking, it cannot be overlooked that new social and political conditions permit an increasing number of Europeans accessibility to a better quality of life. They also facilitate the movement of persons, allow greater mutual understanding between the peoples of the East and West, result in cultural exchanges, foster a frequent sharing of religious experiences, especially among the young, and help put into effect shared initiatives towards making Europe one common house.

In the Church, the above situation undoubtedly offers new and ample possibilities for communion, solidarity and sharing among the local Churches in Europe. These possibilities are also displayed at all levels of the Church among those in positions of responsibility, even if communication is not always balanced or, to use a favourite expression of the Holy Father, Europe's "breathing with two lungs" is still rather slow and laboured.

In some particular Churches in the East activities have significantly been resumed in catechetical, liturgical, charitable and cultural areas with new areas being opened for the Church's evangelising presence. At the same time, the possibility of utilising the instruments of social communication in service to mission seems to be on the increase. In some countries, new conditions are providing opportunity for a new evangelisation, primarily in Christian formation and religious and priestly vocations, areas which formerly had been limited and sometimes hampered by the government. As a result of the new-found freedom, those belonging to religious institutes are now able to return to living in community and sharing pastoral activities, thus surmounting–not without suffering and difficulty–the conditions of the past. In some nations, these new conditions have resulted in an increase in vocations, indeed a hopeful sign. In some countries of the East, where liturgical life was impeded, people are now attending Mass with frequency and, generally speaking, are rediscovering and participating in the Church's liturgy in its various aspects. Spiritual movements are also spreading extensively–at times, not without problems–and the young are increasingly seeking a sound spirituality.

In the particular Churches of the West centres of listening and places of encounter are growing in number where persons meet who were formerly ideologically opposed to each other. Locales are also being established to welcome the growing number of immigrants. Major countries in the West are witnessing the development of the catechumenate and a return to the faith of Christians who have long abandoned religious practice. Some Churches, having undergone changes only as outside observers, are now witnessing an increase in "communion" with other particular Churches and are coming to know the life and culture of people who until now were held to be strangers or even enemies. With the fall of barriers, Church academic institutions in Western Europe have seen a rise in the number of seminarians, priests, religious, women religious and laity from ex-Communist countries and have facilitated the loan of teachers and experts to the local Churches of the East as professors and advisors.

10. Culture and society also display opportunities and signs of hope calling for recognition and appreciation.

Underlying and belonging to the ongoing process of politico- institutional transition, certain actions should not be under-estimated, even if they often require an intensive work of purification. These actions indicate not only a deep desire for political freedom, and more basically the possibility of constructing a pluralistic society where the rights of all, including minorities, might be taught, but also a desire for economic freedom, calling for attention and consideration as a possible positive factor in development and responsibility.

The co-existence of diverse peoples, cultures and religions can be an opportunity–indeed almost an obligation, so as not to revert back to forms of permanent conflict and exclusion of the weakest–to work towards a cultural unity which today can no longer be understood in terms of "Christianity only," but as a "pluralism of dialogue and collaboration". In this situation Christians have the unavoidable task of bringing about that "productive co-existence of cultures" which knows how to transform every temptation to opposition not only into an opportunity for mutual acceptance and service but also into a living environment befitting humanity and all citizens, not to mention into a great reality where a multiplicity of smaller nations and cultures can find a home.

The phenomenon of globalisation, despite its ambivalence and challenges, also contains positive elements and opportunities. This world- wide trend is certainly leading to increased efficiency and growth in production. Likewise, it can strengthen the process of inter-dependence and unity among peoples, offering a real service to the entire human family.

Finally, in the construction of Europe, monetary union has taken on an importance and significance which can serve as a major opportunity. Besides requiring individual states to re-think the meaning of national sovereignty and areas of jurisdiction, it can–if approached with a global view of solidarity–give major stability to Europe and its economic development. Furthermore, it can be an important tool in allowing the continent to increase exchanges of various kinds and in assisting a qualitative advance in living together on the continent. Even if concrete advances are modest, such progress–according to the logic that even small steps matter–does at least demonstrate the attainment of some crucial fundamental values.

Disappointments, Risks and Concerns

11. Interpreting the events which have transformed Europe in the last decade must not lead to forms of naive optimism but must be approached with a realism which does not hide the uncertainty and fragility associated with this phase of European history. Indeed, many new risks of delusion and disappointment exist, as John Paul II forewarned,(18) as well as serious concerns and dangers. The sum total of these disappointments, apprehensions and risks go to make up the facial features of a Europe which seems to have lost hope.

In this climate of disappointment there is a widespread agreement that, despite the effects and advances over the years, the construction of a common house for Europe based on Gospel values is a more difficult goal to achieve than was first thought by the particular Churches at the beginning of the decade. The plan of re-organising political, economic and military affairs–pursued without reference to Christian values–has revealed its true features only in power struggles, despite the fact that in certain nations consideration has been partially given to the good of populations.

Generally speaking, there is a common awareness that Communism is not the only enemy. Pluralism has taken the place of Marxism in cultural dominance, a pluralism which is undifferentiated and tending towards skepticism and nihilism. This pluralism, touching extensive areas of social life today, is resulting in a strongly reduced anthropology, in many cases without meaning.

In Eastern countries in particular, certain expectations have been illusory. The effects of Communism with its hollow anthropology and its consequent ethical principles was not given due consideration. As a result, some unsuspectingly concluded that with the fall of Communism all would, almost automatically, be changed for the better. Others thought that democracy would spontaneously bring riches and prosperity and that freedom would permit a flow of goods from the West to all consumers, guaranteeing work for everyone and causing economic prosperity. Instead, crisis has thrown thousands of families into poverty. On the political level, the oftentimes return to power of former members of the Communist system and a violent nationalism, which at times has arisen instead of freedom and peace, have contributed to an increase in disillusionment. Many are also disappointed at forms of disinterest and indifference in Western Europe to the dramatic situations in certain countries of the ex-Communist world, as witnessed in their being less willing to respect and defend the diversity and rights of individual peoples as well as of certain minorities who are seeking self-determination.

12. Various responses point to risks in different parts of European society today.

On the social level, for example, the phenomenon of globalisation, often guided solely or primarily by the logic of commercialism and geared to the advantage of the powerful, can be the harbinger of greater inequalities, injustices and marginalisation. The situation can lead to an increase in unemployment and pose a threat to society, tending towards inequality not only between industrialised nations but within them as well. It can also have the following effects: raise the question of what can be tolerated in development; cause new forms of social marginalisation, instability and insecurity; place in question the harmony among economy, society and politics; lessen national authority in economic matters, introduce a kind of unrestrained "hyper-competition" and so on.

The introduction of a single European currency can pose risks not only because it can foster financial supremacy and the dominance of economic-commercial interests but also because it can lead to the construction of new barriers in Europe, primarily directed against the East, to protect the stronger economies and defend them against immigration. Undoubtedly, there is an all-too-real danger of a new division of the continent into two parts: one part comprised of countries with a strong currency and another of those with a currency unable to be exchanged, one part comprised of countries with a relatively stable economy and another of those with a weak economy; all this having consequences on society and security.

13. At the cultural level, "there is a growing tendency to think and act merely for the satisfaction of immediate desires and the acquisition of economic security; at the same time, individual freedom becomes a false absolute and there is a denial of any comparison with truth and goodness beyond one's own environment or group. Although a Marxism imposed by force has collapsed, practical atheism and materialism are certainly present throughout Europe; and though they are no longer imposed by force or explicitly proposed, people still think and behave as if 'God did not exist'.(19)

In the wake of the collapse of certain ideologies and of the disillusionment from dreams of utopia, Western countries are witnessing a growing indifference and prevalence of a kind of pragmatic materialism. Likewise, consumerism, an effect of secularisation, now seems to have penetrated even the Eastern part of the continent. In fact, some countries of the East are noting the rampart diffusion of capitalism in its strictest forms supported by a mafia-like organisation, seriously threatening public life. Oftentimes, the people of various Eastern countries, when faced with Western opinions and attitudes, accept them without thought or go to the other extreme of refusing them outrightly, running the risk of serious contra- positioning and polarisation within these countries.

There is also the tendency to question everything, even within Church, insisting that the democratic principle of the majority ought to be applied in Church matters, especially in doctrine and morality.

In this complex situation, European civilisation runs the risk of not only making absolute various values and principles but also unilaterally asserting them to the loss of others. For example, a freedom taken in an absolute sense and isolated from other values–like that of solidarity–can lead to the disintegration of life on the continent; a freedom claimed as absolute runs the risk of destroying the very society it helped to construct.

14. On the religious and ecclesial level, the same situation described in the preceding Synod for Europe continues to be true. Today as before, "a search for religious experience remains, though in forms not always consistent with each other and often far removed from an authentic Christian faith. Young people, in particular, are seeking happiness in many signs, images and vain illusions and are readily inclined towards new forms of religious experience and sects of various origins.(20) In this regard, some responses refer to the reawakening of an interest in religion–as one of many paradoxical elements–which is seen in people's escape into spiritualism and, above all, into a religious and esoteric syncretism, which explains the appeal of sects and groups formed on the basis of the slightest reference to the sacred. The force of these new ideas is founded not so much in the substantiveness of their teaching in offering a new life but in the adoption of a plan for living which has only self as a reference point. Such a situation masks an exaggerated individualism which goes in search of groups offering refuge and gratification.

As a result, there is a great risk of a progressive and radical de-Christianisation and paganisation of the continent. In some countries, the number of those un-baptised is very high. Oftentimes, basic tenets of Christianity are not sufficiently known. Some situations indicate a real breakdown in catechesis and Christian formation. All this puts the cultural identity of Europe in jeopardy, a situation which one person hypothetically described as a kind of "European apostasy".

The great decrease in the number of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life in some countries brings the risk of weakening or diminishing a proper conception of the Church. When people think that the ordained ministry is not relevant and indispensable or when they see it only in terms of function, they see no problem in substituting persons whose only qualifications would be the competence acquired through specific courses.

Finally, many responses highlight the danger that the initiatives undertaken by the particular Churches of Western Europe on behalf of those of the East have a tendency–unintentional but real–to be "westernising them". Instead, inspired by the Gospel, the Western local Churches need to put themselves at the service of the local Churches of the East, seeking to value their cultural and religious richness.

15. This situation is leading some particular Churches to raise concerns.

Considering the profound fundamental changes which have occurred in cultural and religious traditions and acknowledging how much the various particular Churches and Christian communities have done, and continue to do, in individual territories in this regard, a grave preoccupation arises that Europe is more and more in need of a renewed evangelisation and a new missionary effort. In some cases, it is a matter of preaching the Gospel of Christ to those who still do not know it; in others, to mend the fabric of Christian communities. In the Eastern countries, in light of the negative consequences of Communist atheism, a kind of a "first evangelisation" is necessary because many are living without a knowledge of Jesus Christ, even though they live in territories where the Gospel has been announced and testimony has been given, even to an heroic degree. In Western countries which have experienced rapid developments and the challenges of secularisation, globalisation and urbanisation, a "new evangelisation" proposes the urgent need of a new inculturisation of the Gospel. In every case–in each particular Church and among the diverse Churches and Christian communities through an intense, respectful ecumenical collaboration–there is an increasing demand to unite the forces available and concentrate on certain priorities, taking advantage of the existing working and academic structures–revitalised and new–and utilising the means of social communication to form a proper public opinion. In this work, the increased dialogue and collaboration among the bishops and institutes of consecrated life–already showing signs of improvement–is taking on greater importance.

In the religious and moral situation of today's Europe, another basic concern deserves the Synod's attention. The particular Churches in Western countries are recognising that it is less and less possible to base pastoral programs on a presumed acceptance of a "generally shared Christianity" in Europe. Consequently, the necessity has arisen to place an emphasis on the personal nature of faith and on adults through pastoral programs which take into account both the degree of instability, uncertainty and differentiation of Church practice by many of the baptised and the decrease in the number of priests. In this situation, some speak of a danger in continuing to devise a pastoral program which, no longer bearing the characteristics typical of a time when Christianity was the dominant religion, is psychologically incapable of accepting a position of reduced esteem and social recognition for the Church. Such people seek to save structures and the Church's influence at all cost, even to the point of compromise, permitting many persons to live a generic kind of belonging to the Church where there is no need to make clear fundamental choices. The opposite seems to be true in the particular Churches of the East. Because of the difficult history experienced over the years, these Churches are more accustomed not to enjoy esteem in society, and therefore, foster a serious concentration on the important values of the faith.

Another area of concern is the Church's relations with the mass media. Many point out that oftentimes the Church does not know how to use well the modern means of social communication. Without being openly hostile to the Church, the media can sometimes convey a poor image of religion and the Church.

Towards a Critical Discernment of Some Special Questions

16. Generally speaking, certain subjects deserve special attention.

First of all, the separation between progress and spiritual values is growing wider. Certain examples of this situation are common to almost all countries in Europe; others are peculiar to Western and Eastern Europe.

The phenomenon is often associated with practical experience more than with any philosophy or ideology. Many people live in such difficult situations that daily concerns take precedence and leave no room for other values to enter. Unemployment, a variety of family problems as well as forms of marginalisation and injustices in society affect people to such an extent as to cause disinterest in spiritual values or indifference to them.

Not every situation, however, is so obvious and clear. In European society, contradictory trends are emerging in various ways. On the one hand, there is a tendency to isolate oneself in a small world and to defend one's privacy as well as one's social and cultural "status"; on the other, there is a desire to be open towards others, particularly towards the poor and those on the periphery of society. On the one hand, free time permits the development of values from sports events, tourism, nature, etc.; on the other, these opportunities turn some people into idols for a noteworthy group of individuals or lead to a kind of collective obsession in which individuality seems to be swallowed up.

In Western countries, the separation between progress and spiritual values is manifested primarily in a mentality to seek the easiest, most practical or most personally gratifying solution to problems. Consequently, a sense of sacrifice and asceticism is lost, history loses its meaning and beauty, truth and goodness are given importance, only if they are immediately achievable.

Furthermore, social progress and cultural advancement have shed new light on values touching various aspects of human living. Women are more conscious of their proper vocation and better prepared to defend women's equal dignity and opportunities in various areas of life. In numerous families good communication exists between parents and children. Among the younger generation a greater understanding of family values seems to be growing.

At first sight, the conclusion might be drawn that the abandonment of spiritual values goes hand and hand with progress. However, since material progress alone does not satisfy the deepest aspirations of the human heart, the search for spiritual values, although oftentimes vague and ill-defined, can be said to be growing as well. But there is no evidence that this growth is taking place extensively. At the same time, it is taking different forms in the West and East.

17. Today, the value of solidarity often seems to be in crisis in Europe. In fact, the attitudes and conduct of individuals and entire groups, oftentimes inspired and nourished by forms of a self-centred capitalism and consumerism, are clearly visible and present almost everywhere on the continent.

Even though solidarity may be in a weakened state in society, there are many positive trends and initiatives being promoted by men and women who well remember the broken dreams from various ideologies. These programs are aimed at creating a new consciousness of the need of planning and realising projects on behalf of life at the personal, familial and national levels. These projects are based on a dignified austerity meant to bring beneficial effects to populations now living under the poverty level or in need of different kinds of assistance. In this regard, in many local Churches, especially in Western Europe, solidarity towards the local poor, peoples from the East and those in the Southern hemisphere is taking on a greater meaning than might be imagined. Campaigns of solidarity, directed towards specific goals and periodically sponsored by various people in the Church, are having some success. The practice of "Sister Churches" linking Christian communities in Europe with Churches of the so-called "Third World" is becoming more frequent. Not to be overlooked is the work of consecrated persons both in initiatives of solidarity among the people of the local Churches where they exercise their apostolate and in formation work in which they instil in new generations the human and Christian value of a real, realisable solidarity.

18. The responses on religious freedom and tolerance provide complex, varied information. On the one hand, many parts of the continent enjoy true religious freedom without any obstacles; on the other, certain forms of intolerance exist and endure.

In some places where there is a formal respect of religious freedom, a certain intolerance exists when individual Catholics or groups publicly voice their beliefs and positions on issues. Oftentimes, the Church is "tolerated" so long as she stays in the private sphere.

Some countries have had decades of conflict as a result of a basic intolerance. Such intolerance, however, has for some time been slowly diminishing and yielding to a spirit of mutual acceptance of different traditions and beliefs.

After many years of imposed atheism, there is arising in some particular Churches in the East a climate and attitude of rigidity towards other confessions and different ways of thinking. As a result, some groups of Catholics wish to impose their way of thinking and acting on all society, clearly showing their difficulty in accepting the values of the ecumenical movement, interreligious dialogue and a correct democratic system.

Today, acts of hostility and intolerance towards Catholics, albeit rarer, have not totally disappeared in some predominantly Orthodox territories. Certain signs of anti-Semitism also exist in some parts of Europe. As for relations with Muslims, some observe that they ask for religious tolerance but, at the same time, they do not guarantee that same tolerance in Islamic countries for those who profess Catholicism or other religions.

In almost all Western societies, the general climate of tolerance poses a great challenge for the Church. In a society where tolerance is seen as an essential, dominant and undeniable value, there are those in fact who maintain that monotheism under any form–and therefore, also Christian monotheism–might be the underlying cause of intolerance. Consequently, they state that if this necessary tolerance is to be safeguarded, society ought to return to a sort of indistinct co-existence of religious beliefs and, ultimately, of a variety of possible deities. The question arises, then, how can the Church continue to fulfill her evangelising mission without being a harbinger of intolerance? More precisely, how can and how ought the Church announce the Gospel while acknowledging and accepting all who profess a different faith and avoiding that "tolerance" degenerate into "indifference" or "relativism"?

19. Finally, in considering the State in relation to intermediate institutions and the Church, it is necessary to bear in mind that in many nations the power of the State has at times grown disproportionately over the years, resulting in a decrease in number of these institutions or their suppression. Many persons and small institutions have thereby become very vulnerable to the will of the State. This is the case especially in the countries of Eastern Europe where decades of Communism have destroyed such institutions and undermined civil and social life. At the same time, however, it must be admitted that decades of capitalism have produced analogous situations in many countries of the West. In these situations, the Church is called upon to support intermediate institutions and to encourage their creation.

In certain nations of Western Europe, the Church has enjoyed, and still enjoys, full religious freedom and possesses multiple cultural, educational and charitable institutions, oftentimes making up for a lack in State programs. In such a situation, the Church increasingly ought to recognise and respect the "secular character" of the State and her own autonomy. At the same time, however, the Church is also required to regain her rights, for example, in such matters as scholastic equality and State financial aid for non-State schools, in the defence of life, in the preferential love for the poor of society and effective religious freedom.

In certain countries of Eastern Europe, especially in those of Orthodox tradition, the association between religion and the State is very strong. In some cases, this situation is the cause of unfavourable administrative attitudes towards the Catholic Church or even a legal discrimination towards other religious confessions.

Likewise, there is also in some Eastern European countries those who use religion and the Church for political and nationalistic ends.

Attitudes of the Churches and Seeking Cultural Roots

20. The preceding paragraphs have described the basic features of today's Europe, the following paragraphs treat the reactions and attitudes of the Christian community which are equally diverse and varied.

In an ever-widening pluralism of faith and culture, there are some, formed in a kind of Christian Western mono-culture, who look at the situation with apprehension. Finding themselves unprepared to understand and interpret this pluralism, they are consequently unable to approach it with openness and critical dialogue. Other people in the Church are disposed to accept such pluralism but more at the theoretical level and more in areas outside the Church. This is clearly seen in the difficulties encountered–and frequently resulting incapacity–in creating areas in the particular Churches in Europe where Catholics of other traditions or immigrants of other religions can express their cultural, spiritual and religious values. At the same time, ecclesial communities, centres of consecrated life as well as groups and movements exist which seem to be reacting positively to such pluralism. In this regard, it is sufficient to consider the cultural, charitable, associative and ecumenical initiatives promoted by dioceses or national and regional episcopal conferences.

Faced with various forms of indifferentism, relativism and agnosticism, some people emphasise the importance of doing the following: rediscovering the true face of God revealed by Jesus; decisively affirming the truth; living one's proper identity with conviction; and fostering the growth of Church communion, also in ecumenism. Concerning moral matters–considering that the dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God, is often denied or trampled upon–some insist that there is an urgent need to propose a proper integral anthropological vision of the person, the sole foundation for achieving a society which respects life and the rights of each and every person. Finally, there exist currents of thought which seek to combat moral relativism and foster attitudes and virtuous conduct inspired by values taken from the Gospel and Christian tradition as well as shared by a lay culture which has been purified of the dogmas associated with the tragic events of European history in the twentieth century.

21. An ample detailed description of the various features of today's Europe is not enough; nor is it sufficient to present various reactions to the state of affairs. Time also needs to be given to the work of a discernment which primarily knows how to go to the root of the matter, seeking to uncover the profound reasons at the source of these very diversified phenomena. This Synod and the particular Churches are asked to make this kind of discernment, if they wish to fulfill their pastoral responsibility.

Concerning the widespread phenomenon of religious indifference, many have pointed to various reasons in the vast fabric of society. The following are among the major aspects cited: emergence of a "philosophy without metaphysics" associated with a weakening or diminishing of the idea of "questioning the ultimate meaning of things"; the ever-expanding "individualistic tendencies" which lead to a society whose purpose is to foster the private interest of its members rather than, as once held, to promote the ideal and the common good; the process of "increasing autonomy" identifiable in a growing desire for self-determination and self- realisation, which is sometimes also connected with an increase of responsibility and personal involvement; the complex phenomenon of "secularisation" and its associated tendencies of social and cultural "differentiation" (permitting the co-existence of many religions and religious beliefs in the same area), the "privatisation" of religion, the "de-sacralisation" of many areas where religion in the past exercised its influence, often in a determining manner, and "rationalisation" meant to control effectively every choice and action.

In addition to the reasons for religious indifference described thus far, a look at the Church reveals general agreement that religious indifference is nurtured by certain problems such as: an improper use of goods and a lack of interest in poverty in its various forms; a certain indifference on the part of the clergy to people's doubts and the tragic events of persons in difficulty; the lack of credibility of various "Churchmen"; the decrease in the number of various places for the proper formation of Catholic men and women; and the lack of organisation, at the national and European level, of the Catholic press and other structures for producing and spreading cultural programs of Christian inspiration.

22. Underlying and contained in the various phenomena reported and included among the factors coalescing to determine and explain the present situation in Europe, a widening separation between private conscience and public values is easily discernable. It is well to point out that such a separation is the logical consequence of certain attitudes and choices determined by culture. When democracy remains neutral concerning values, every choice necessarily becomes a private one with no social implications. And if value choices are confined only to the private domain, they will have no effect in public life. In this situation, the difference between private values and social life–because of a dangerous democratic neutrality–cannot help but grow, resulting in a society which is always less capable of responding to the diverse calls, coming from many quarters, on the "meaning" of existence.

In this cultural climate, atheism, agnosticism and religious indifference arise and become widespread. The religious option also runs the risk of becoming just another private choice. A consumer approach to religious experience is being propagated. The fundamental moral-religious choice is no longer the reference point for all other choices; it is just "one" of many which contribute to defining the private identity of the individual.

Even more basic in the matter is the mistaken notion of freedom–understood and lived as the self-determination of the individual with no reference point to transcendent and absolute values–which leads to a mentality and attitudes seen in many areas as moral relativism, individualistic subjectivism and nihilistic hedonism. A particularly pressing problem then is the exercise of freedom in relation to truth, personal conscience and civil law. Freedom is based on the dignity of the each human person and on the truth that every person is a child of God. The exercise of freedom implies personal responsibility, and consequently, the question of truth–the foundation of freedom–and the common good–the goal of the exercise of freedom in society.

Finally, at the end of this century, consideration also can be given to the deep fundamental changes accompanying the decline of modernity. The actual outcome of this process, however, is not clear. Tendencies are emerging which are ambivalent and contradictory, requiring attentive and thorough examination. At the same time, the birth of post-modernity is taking place in a complex and uncertain context. If in some cases the mission of the Church in these circumstances appears more difficult and less anchored to traditional guarantees, in other cases the changes now taking place in European countries provide new opportunities for the Church to develop an efficient organic work of evangelisation.

The Centrality of the "Question of Faith"

23. There is no doubt–as the Holy Father has said(21)–that the happenings of 1989 gave birth in Europe to a great hope of freedom, responsibility, solidarity and spirituality. Today, however, this great hope needs to be renewed and reinforced, because in recent years new risks have appeared which are clearly not providing hope to Europeans in our times: "after the collapse of the ideological structure of Marxism-Leninism not only a lack of orientation can be seen in the former Communist countries, but also a widespread attachment to individualistic and selfish systems, as they have been and still are followed in the West. Such systems can ultimately give no meaning in life and no hope. At most they can give them temporary satisfaction, which is then mistaken for individual fulfilment. In a world in which nothing is really important, in which a person can do whatever he pleases, there is a danger that the principles, truths and values carefully acquired over the centuries will be discarded onto the rubbish heap of an exaggerated liberalism.(22)

It is not difficult to note–as mentioned above–that in the situation described, the recurring fundamental question regards the idea of the human person and human freedom. In some ways, the humanism based on a human dignity which has characterised the history and experience of Europe needs to be discussed.

This gives rise to the importance of "moral principles" in the present moment in the history of the European continent.

At the same time, however, underlying this subject is "the religious question," which can be observed when the two opposing conceptions of freedom currently in Europe today are considered: the one based on obedience to God as the "source of true freedom, which is never an arbitrary freedom and without hope, but a freedom for the truth and for the good" and the other that, "having suppressed every subordination of the creature to God, or to a transcendent order of truth and good, considers man in himself as the principle and the end of everything(23) and as the unique unquestionable arbiter and reference of his choices.

24. Flowing from this, in the ultimate analysis, is the centrality and decisiveness of "the question of faith" in Jesus, which was highlighted by the Holy Father during his first trip in Slovenia. He emphasised that in Europe, "the present climate of anguish and mistrust regarding the meaning of life and the manifest disorientation of European culture invites us to look in a new way at the relationship between Christianity and culture, between faith and reason. A renewed dialogue between culture and Christianity will be profitable for both; and man above all, who longs for a truer and fuller life, will be the one to benefit.(24)

The Holy Father further observed: "the encounter between cultures and faith is a requirement of our search for truth. It ?has created something new. When they are deeply rooted in experience, cultures set for the human being's characteristic openness to the universal and the transcendent' (Encyclical Fides et ratio). This people will find both help and support in seeking truth, so that, with the gift of grace, they can meet the One who is their Creator and Saviour.(25)

In conclusion, it seems that the words of the Holy Father addressed to Italians can be applied in a certain way to all of Europe. Europe "which has a famous and, in a certain sense unique, legacy of faith, has for some time been swept by cultural trends that undermine the very foundations of this Christian heritage: faith in the Incarnation and in the Redemption, the specific nature of Christianity, the certainty that God, through his Son Jesus Christ came out of love in search of man (cf. Tertio millennio adventiente, nn 6-7). Instead, these uncertainties have been replaced for many people by a vague religious sentiment with little impact on their life, or even by various forms of agnosticism and practical atheism which all result in a personal and social life that is led etsi Deus non daretur, as if God did not exist(26)

From this it follows that the Synod and the particular Churches in Europe urgently need to examine the authenticity and vitality of the Christian faith of believers in Europe and to help them discover that faith anew and live it. This should be done with the conviction that an authentic faith requires encountering Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, having personal communion with him, and accepting the truth of the Gospel in its entirety, and that the vitality of that faith requires a person to return to it as the standard of judgment and choice, thereby giving birth and nurturing a mentality and a manner of acting which are consistent to God's word and his commandments.


PART II

JESUS CHRIST ALIVE IN HIS CHURCH

 

Foundation for an authentic, fully-alive faith

25. After the two disciples of Emmaus had confided to Jesus the reasons for their sadness and dashed hopes, Jesus "said to them, ?O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Lk 24:25-27). Jesus himself proclaims his resurrection and leads the two disciples to faith. Quoting the prophets who preceded him, he explains the plan of God's radiant mysterious love. Passion and death are not opposed to the Messiah's liberating action but the very way chosen by God to communicate his "glory" to humanity, that is, his saving redeeming love. This announcement– spanning the entire history of the first covenant and finding its definitive enduring seal in the recognition of the Lord in the breaking of bread–warms their hearts causing the two to regain their lost hope.

The account of Emmaus presents a long catechesis intended to lead the disciples to faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ delivered up to death. Faithfully reflecting the teaching of the primitive Church, this text also remains the model today for the Church and her pastoral activity which is done in a patient, continuous, indefatigable and courageous witness and preaching destined to enkindle and increase faith in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, source and mainstay of a firm and lasting hope. St. Paul writes, "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied" (1 Cor 15:19).

Faith in the Risen Christ, Revealer of the Glory of God

26. At each moment in history the Church is called to announce Christ Risen. She–yesterday, today and always, wherever she be, in whatever continent of the earth, such as Europe–is sent to speak not of herself but Christ crucified and risen.

She has fulfilled this task from the very beginning, as illustrated in the first sermon of Peter at Pentecost: "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourself know–this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it...Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." (Acts 2:22-24,36). With Peter's words the Church proclaims with conviction in every age that Jesus Christ is alive, actively present in the Church and changing lives.

She does so in every age because "the Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, believed and lived as the central truth of the first Christian community, handed on as fundamental by Tradition, established by the documents of the New Testament, preached as the essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the Cross: ?Christ is risen from the dead! Dying he conquered death; To the dead, he has given life'" (Byzantine Liturgy, Troparion of Easter).(27)

This has also been the explicit intention of the Second Vatican Council which the Synod desires to take up anew and to fulfill: to proclaim to the Church herself and to announce to the world "Christ Our Principle, Christ, Our Life and Guide! Christ Our Hope and End!(28)

The fullness of the glory of God is revealed in Christ, dead and risen again. Jesus is the hope of man, the hope of Europe and the hope of the world, because he is for all of humanity the only way leading to the Father (cf. Jn 14:6-7), the foundation and ultimate goal of life for every person and everything, because between him and the Father there is a sublime, ineffable and reciprocal intimacy (cf. Jn 14:10), because he and the Father are one (cf. Jn 10:30), because he is God himself.

27. Because of this faith and encounter with the Risen Christ, it is possible for the members of the Church today–as it was for the disciples at Emmaus–to take a look at history, read the Scriptures and discover in the pages of the Old Testament the signs, types and traces of Christ's presence: an anticipated and prefigured reality which reaches its fulfilment in the Crucified and Risen Christ.

Peter proclaimed this truth on Pentecost, when, re-reading the facts of Christ's life which led him to profess Christ as Messiah and Lord, he saw the testimony of the Scriptures as precisely pointing to Jesus (cf. Acts 2:17- 21, 25-28, 34-35). Paul did the same thing when, re-reading the history of Israel, particularly the episode of the water flowing from the rock at Massa and Meriba (cf. Ex 17:1-7; Num 20:1-11), affirms: "...all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ" (1 Cor 10:4).

The Synod can and ought to re-read Scripture and again discover the signs, deeds and words which are "types" of Christ and his presence. Such a reading must also be done in moments of difficulty, fatigue and trial, all the while without losing hope and with the conviction that–as the Lord did not abandon Israel in the desert after their departure from Egypt, but "went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and night" (Ex 13:21)–today also, the same Lord is present in every event of history, guiding his people. The Church can therefore repeat with the Prophet Zephaniah: "Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and Exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! ... The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear evil no more. ... Do not fear, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival" (Zeph 3:14-18), because she knows that these words find their definitive fulfilment in the Risen Christ.

Because of this same faith in the risen Lord and the encounter with him living and present, the synod can and must take a new look at human history and world history–and consequently at the past and present events of Europe–discovering in persons and events a reference to Christ and his being "God with us".

The Need for Jesus Christ

28. Guided and enlightened by this renewed faith vision which allows people to recognise in Christ, crucified and risen, the centre of history and the world, it is not difficult to see that secularisation, or more properly de- Christianisation, is occurring in Europe, at times dramatically carrying with it a kind of diffused neo-paganism. Though consistent and widespread, the process, however, is not complete as evidenced by calls for spirituality and religion. Such a trend, however, cannot be immediately qualified as Christian, because the eclectic and relativistic character of these calls makes it very difficult for them to recognise Jesus Christ as the only Saviour. They are for the most part calls internal to–and undoubtedly a reaction to–the social and cultural processes.

At the same time, however, it must be recognised that "a search for religious experience remains, even though in various forms which do not easily cohere with each other and often lead far from authentic Christian faith". In such a search "the whole of Europe is again faced with the challenge of a new choice for God.(29)

The work ahead is not simply to maintain the status quo, but todeclare anew that Jesus Christ alive in his Church is the one and only truth and the steadfast source of hope.

A similar conclusion emerged from the First Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops. The Synod came to the clear understanding that the Church cannot be simply an agent of civilisation, even of one more genuinely human. Instead, she must announce the Gospel for her own good and in fidelity to its contents. She must help today's men and women live a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus based on the beatitudes. It follows then that "Europe today must not simply appeal to its former Christian heritage: it needs to be able to decide about Europe's future in conformity with the person and message of Jesus Christ.(30) As in the past, what matters today is to provide men and women in Europe with a personal encounter with the living Lord Jesus, an encounter which is open to the experience of discipleship, to fostering that experience and sustaining it. It bears repeating that the centre of the Gospel–and consequently of proclamation–is a God alive and near, who is communicated in an experience of communion already begun and open to a sure hope of eternal life, in the conviction that "if the Church preaches this God, she is not speaking of some unknown God, but of the God who so loved us that his Son took flesh for us. It is the God who comes to us, who shares himself with us, who unites himself with us, the true ?Emmanuel' (cf. Mt 1:23).(31) At the same time, it follows that all the teachings of the Gospel must be re-proposed, primarily those which concern the person, his existence and the related truths, fully aware that "the cause of God is in no way opposed to the cause of humanity. It is rather purely earthly promises which–as recent history shows–eventually enslaves men and women totally.(32)

After eight years, the path taken must be re-assessed and followed with greater decisiveness and determination. The words of the Holy Father can serve as a guide in this task: "If Europe is to have a new encounter with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the first thing necessary is for Christians to experience a spiritual breakthrough, a new determination and joy in the faith. Only in that way can they give ?an account of (their) hope'; only in that way can the faith become a spiritually and culturally creative force once again.(33)

With this goal in mind, the Synod intends first of all to propose anew faith in the Lord Jesus risen and alive, the one and only Saviour, present in his Church. At this moment, on the threshold of the Third Millennium–in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, which the Holy Father called "a providential event, whereby the Church began the more immediate preparation for the Jubilee(34) of the Year 2000–the Synod wishes to assist the particular Churches in Europe towards a renewed awareness of the "multiple yet one, permanent yet stimulating, mysterious yet most clear, stringent and beatifying rapport between us and the Blessed Lord, between this holy and living Church, which we are, and Christ, from whom we come, for whom we live and towards whom we are moving.(35) Like the Council, the Synod desires to profess and celebrate the Lord Jesus Christ as "the Incarnate word, Son of God and Son of Man, Redeemer of the world, that is, the Hope of humanity and the Supreme Master, the Shepherd, Bread of life, our Priest and Victim, Sole Mediator between God and Man, Saviour of the world, King for age upon age.(36)

Christ Risen, the One and Only Saviour

29. The Church's task is to re-affirm with force and conviction that Christ is necessary for humanity: necessary for salvation and the full realisation of human values.

In the words of Pope Paul VI, the particular Churches of Europe today are called to repeat with a genuine impassioned faith that "Christ is necessary, without him one cannot do anything; without him one cannot live";(37) "Christ is our Saviour. Christ is our Supreme Benefactor. Christ is our Liberator. Christ is necessary for us, so as to be persons worthy and true in the temporal order, and saved and elevated in the supernatural order.(38)

On various occasions the Holy Father has spoken to the women and men of Europe and emphasised that the Synod wants to proclaim Jesus Christ as the Lord of history, the content and vital centre of the message of salvation, the way, the truth and the life (cf. Jn 14:6), who is the only valid response in every generation and the point of departure of the new evangelisation. He is our Easter. In him, through his cross and resurrection, God is forever united to humanity in a new and eternal covenant. He is the secret of Europe's strength. Jesus is, today and always, the source of hope, because in him the promises of God are fully realised. He reveals to us, in all truth, that our God is a faithful God, who keeps his promises and brings them to completion.

Jesus is the one who frees a person from every slavery. He is the only one who is able to fulfill fully the irrepressible aspiration for freedom. He is the definitive response to life's meaning and to the fundamental questions which many men and women of Europe are asking today, because in him alone the deepest aspirations of the person find a full and proper response. Recently, the Holy Father has also affirmed that the Synod intends to proclaim Christ as the one who "fully reveals man to himself in his fullness as a child of God, in his inalienable dignity as a person, in the greatness of his intellect, which can attain truth, and of his will, which can act rightly.(39) Furthermore, this is fully in keeping with the humanism of Eastern and Western Europe, even if–as John Paul II has emphasised–"with the passing of time, especially in ?modern' times, Christ, the creator of the European spirit, the creator of the freedom that has its saving roots in him, was, as it were, put on a shelf, and people set about inventing another European mentality, a mentality we can describe with the phrase: "we think and act as if God did not exist.(40)

30. In the context of the present increasing religious pluralism in Europe, the Synod also intends to proclaim that Christ is the one and only Saviour of all humanity and, consequently, to assert the absolute uniqueness of Christianity in relation to other religions. In the wake of conciliar teaching and more recent pronouncements of the magisterium(41), the task at hand is to renew one's faith and proclaim that Jesus is the one and only mediator of salvation for all of humanity. Only in him do humanity, history and the cosmos find their definitively positive meaning and receive their full realisation. He is not only the mediator of salvation but salvation's source. "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Inspired by the clear affirmation of Peter, on the vigil of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, His Holiness John Paul II voiced the urgent need of illustrating and examining in depth "that Christ is the one Mediator between God and the sole Redeemer of the world, to be clearly distinguished from the founders of other great religions. With sincere esteem, the Church regards the elements of truth found in those religions as a reflection of the Truth which enlightens all men and women.(42)

Jesus is Present in the Church

31. Even in great difficulties, when hope grows dim and faith is in crisis, Jesus is present. He does not abandon his Church but walks with her as a companion along the way. In the pilgrimage of the Church through time, he travels with her, never abandoning his beloved spouse but providing for her and accompanying her with a delicacy which attests to the absolutely gratuitous character of his love.

Once again, the story of the two travellers of Emmaus can serve as a teaching: "...Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognising him" (Lk 24:15-16). Even if not recognised, Jesus is present, walks their streets, makes himself the gracious travel companion and guide. St. Augustine writes: "he walked along the road as a travel companion, indeed it was he who led them. They saw him, but they did not recognise him. Their eyes–as we understand–were impeded from recognising him. They were kept not from seeing him, but only from recognising him.(43)

The faith which the Church has always professed, and continues to profess, is that Jesus, ascended into heaven and glorified, continues to be present on earth in his Church: "When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans (cf. Jn 14:18). He promised to remain with them until the end of time (cf. Matt 28:20); he sent them his Spirit (cf. Jn 20:22; Acts 2:23). As a result, communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: ?By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation' (Lumen gentium, 7).(44) Jesus continues to act through the powerful intervention of the Spirit, the Paraclete, who is the continuing and faithful "memory" of what Jesus has said and done (cf. Jn 14:26) and who, day by day, forms Jesus in the Church and his disciples, rendering them in this way the living body of Christ.

32. The manner in which Jesus is present in the Church–as the Council teaches–is diverse and varied: "...Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of his minister..., but especially under the Eucharistic species. By his power he is present in the sacraments... He is present in his word, since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, finally, when the Church prays and sings, for he promised: ?Where two or three are gathered together for my sake, there am I in the midst of them' (Mt 18:20).(45) He is still "present in the Church as she performs her works of mercy, not just because whatever good we do to one of his least brethren we do to Christ himself (cf. Mt 25:40), but also because Christ is the one who performs these works through the Church and who continually helps men with his divine love. He is present in the Church as she moves along on her pilgrimage with a longing to reach the portals of eternal life, for she is the one who dwells in our hearts through faith (cf.Eph 3:17), and who instills charity in them through the Holy Spirit whom he gives.(46) He is present "in the poor, the sick and the imprisoned (cf. Mt 25:31-46), and in the sacraments of which he is the author.(47) Another special presence of the Lord is seen also in individuals who are particularly near to him in holiness. "In the lives of those who shared in our humanity and yet were transformed into especially successful images of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 3:18), God vividly manifests to men his presence and his face. He speaks to us in them, and gives us a sign of his kingdom...(48) Along the same lines, the presence of Jesus is realised in families, groups, movements and parish communities where persons live and incarnate the new commandment of love through acts of love (cf. Jn 15:1-17). His presence is manifested in the concrete circumstances of a Christian community which, with one heart and soul, lives in love, thereby putting into action the teachings of the Apostolic Church (cf. Acts 2:42-48; 4:32-35).

Jesus is so present in his Church, his body, that the activity of the Church is a participation in the mission of Jesus. All that the Church "has" and "is" is the fruit of Christ's gift of himself in love. The Church is not only "born" from love and the gift of Christ himself who loved her and gave himself up for her (cf. Eph 5:25), but she "is" this love of self-giving made visible and operative in history. Therefore, as Christ is the "sacrament" of the Father, so the Church is the "sacrament" of Christ's love. Because of this, she has her being; and for this purpose, she is sent by Christ into the world. Therefore, in various ways, despite the fragile nature and imperfections of her members, the Church represents the Lord, shares in his mission of salvation and is animated and sustained by the power of his Spirit. St. Ambrose wrote: "The Church shines not with her own light, but with the splendour of Christ...(49) of which she is the living sacrament.

"Indeed, great is the awareness of our limitations, but equally great is our certainty of his presence and his constant saving intervention.(50) The Synod intends openly to make this profession of faith. This is also the fundamental reason underlying the examination of conscience which the Synod wishes to encourage in the local Churches in Europe.

The Church: "Mystery" and "Communion"

33. The proclamation of the presence of Jesus in his Church leads to a consideration of the Church as "mystery" and "communion".

To speak of the Church as "mystery" means to affirm her sacramental nature and emphasise her source in the mystery of Christ who begot her. The Church is the gift of God, manifested in Jesus Christ and communicated through the Spirit from whom she proceeds and who gives her life. The Church is the Paschal mystery of Christ, announced through the Word and made present in the sacraments which are the font of her existence and mission. In this sense, "...the Church is Christ's instrument. ?She is taken up by him also as the instrument of the salvation of all' (Lumen gentium, 1), ?the universal sacrament of salvation' (ibid., 48), by which Christ is ?at once manifesting and actualising the mystery of God's love for men' (Gaudium et spes, 45). The Church ?is the visible plan of God's love for humanity' (PAUL VI, Address, 22 June 1973), because God desires ?that the whole human race may become one People of God, form one Body of Christ, and be built up into one temple of the Holy Spirit (Ad gentes, 7, cf. Lumen gentium, 17).(51)

To speak of the Church as communion means to affirm that the Church is not only united "around Christ" but is united "in him", in his Body.(52) "Christ and his Church thus together make up the ?whole Christ' ... The Church is this Body of which Christ is the head; she lives from him, in him and for him; he lives with her and in her.(53) Certain of this, each member of the Church can and ought to repeat—as did St. Joan of Arc in front of her judges–"Jesus Christ and the Church are one and this should raise no difficulty." This statement makes reference to the Church's communio which is grounded in communion with God in the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ, becomes a reality in ecclesial communion and moves outward towards the communion of all humanity.

34. In light of this, the perception in Europe of the Church as mystery varies greatly and receives different emphasis in East and West, very much mirroring the multi-coloured map of contemporary Christianity.

Though in the minority, there are those who are quite aware of the life of communion and in various ways approach ecclesial life with a sense of collaboration and co-responsibility. These conceive of the Church as mystery, communion and mission according to the description in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and more recently in various synodal assemblies and a number of papal discourses. This group is made up of many communities of consecrated life, diverse pastoral workers and those belonging to various associations and ecclesial movements.

A broader group of persons, including some Christians, sees the Church, not as a complex, articulated, hierarchical institution, but rather according to contemporary public opinion, whose pronouncements, primarily on morality, run contrary to the aspirations of those who claim broad areas of freedom for themselves and others and do not wish to hear from others what they are to do or how they are to act. In many cases, people value and appreciate the Church only as an institution or a humanitarian, cultural or charitable organization, a "provider of services" of various kinds. Underlying such a mentality are the following: the manner in which the Church is presented in the mass media; the weighty effects of individualistic philosophy in the last centuries; little emphasis on the mystical nature of the Church in preaching and teaching; and Church practice which is not inspired by communion and not sufficiently founded on mutual respect and openness to listening to others. In particular, this widespread mentality seems to result from the disturbing loss of a perception of the Church as sacrament. This is having negative consequences in many areas. The decrease of priestly ordinations in many European countries is due to this altered vision of the Church which no longer perceives priestly ministry as a sacramental state of life but rather as a function in the Church's organisational structure open to substitution. Added to this is a diminished awareness of the presence of Jesus Christ with his Spirit in the life of the Church. A greater emphasis needs to be given in catechesis and pastoral activity to the concept of the Church as mystery, communion and mission to announce the Gospel.

Finally, there are also small groups of Catholics nostalgic of the past who can become a source of tensions in varying degrees in the local community.

In a vision of the Church as communion, the following are normally included as concrete ways to express and realise this dimension: liturgical celebrations, prayer, lectio divina, sacramental life, pilgrimages, etc. At the same time, while the parish firmly maintains its importance as the basic "place of lived communion", some spiritual communities and groups of Christian life are assuming an increased role in this area.


PART III

JESUS CHRIST HOPE FOR EUROPE

Towards a Church Announcing, Celebrating and

Serving "The Gospel of Hope"

 

The Encounter with Jesus Christ gives rise to Mission

35. With the recognition of Jesus risen and alive, the two disciples could have thought that their trip ended at Emmaus and that Jesus was to remain with them. Instead, at the very moment when "their eyes were opened and they recognised him," the Risen Christ "vanished out of their sight" (Lk 24:31). Neither the consolation of the Scriptures nor the joys of the Eucharist were the end of their journey. Instead, the goal was Jerusalem: the city of God, the place of true human community, the ideal city, symbol of every historical and social happening and the heavenly city resplendent with the glory of God (cf. Rev 21:10). The recognition of Jesus as risen and alive, present in his Church, necessarily leads to a "mission" which is lived in the concrete circumstances of history, until the time of its definitive fulfilment with the return of the Lord.

Hence, "they (the two) rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem, and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them" (Lk 24:33). This passage alludes to an essential dimension of mission. This mission needs to be lived in communion with not only the Word and the Eucharist but also the Apostles and their successors. It can even be said that mission is an intrinsic requirement of communion. Communion with Jesus is the source of the communion of Christians among themselves: "Communion and mission are profoundly connected with each other, they interpenetrate and mutually imply each other, to the point that communion represents the source and the fruit of mission: communion gives rise to mission and mission is accomplished in communion.(54)

Having reached Jerusalem, the two hear their announcement echoed, "The Lord is risen indeed and has appeared to Simon!" (Lk 24:34). For their part, they "told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread" (Lk 24:35). In this way, the fundamental content to be announced, celebrated and served through the entire mission of the Church is recalled, namely, that the announcement of Christ, risen and alive, the one and only Saviour of all, ought to continue to resound today and always within particular Churches, among the diverse local Churches and to the ends of the earth. This is what the Synod intends to take up and examine in the firm belief–that what the Church has gratuitously received from God through the living tradition of previous generations, throughout the entire history of evangelisation on the European continent, and what has been assimilated through listening to the Word and celebrating the Sacraments, must in turn be offered gratuitously by the Church to Europe today and to all those to whom the Lord sends her in mission. The joy which the Risen Christ causes the Church to experience in explaining the Scriptures and in the breaking of bread, compels each and every member of the particular Churches to "leave Emmaus" so that others might regain life's full meaning given by God for whom they yearn, even when they are indifferent or seem to reject him.

36. This is the challenge facing the Church in Europe. The compelling words of the Holy Father are a call to the local Churches in Europe and all particular Churches worldwide to take responsibility in the matter: "Taking its inspiration from the pedagogy of the Incarnation, the Christian community is called to walk with Christ beside the man of today, supporting him in his difficult search for the Truth and making him in some way feel the presence of the Redeemer in everyday life, marked by uncertainty about the future, by injustice, confusion and at times despair. Trusting in the presence of the Lord, through listening, dialogue, and celebration of the word and the sacraments, Christians will thus be able to lead their contemporaries from confusion and lack of confidence to the joyous testimony of the Risen Christ.(55)

When considering the missionary dimension of the Church's mystery, a certain weakness seems to be detected in the particular Churches of Europe. Oftentimes, mission is reduced to the everyday activity of ecclesial life and practice according to a pastoral program of "maintaining the status quo". There seems to be a certain reluctance to "venture outside of self" and pursue a more challenging and innovative pastoral activity (for certain ecclesial communities of ex-communist countries, sometimes this reluctance is inherent, due to a complex climate of fear, suspicion, dependence and lack of creativity imposed for decades by the regime in power). Mission ad gentes, while being valued for the oftentimes heroic presence of missionaries coming from the local Churches, is experiencing some difficulty because of the decrease of vocations resulting from some Churches' turning inward to concentrate on their own needs.

But this state of affairs, far from being a source of discouragement or inaction, is an added incentive to see to it that the Church's mission restore hope to Europe today.

Restoring Hope to Europe

37. The Synod intends to proclaim that the hope of Europe is in the Cross of Christ, "symbol of the forgiving love of God for man, the love that overcomes misery and death, that promises the brotherhood of all men and peoples, the divine source of strength bringing about the renewal of creation(56) and that hope has a solid foundation, when sought in conformity with the will of God through a person's openness to faith.(57)

In doing this, the Church is sustained and guided by the certainty that "Christ the Lord is the Way; he heals our internal and external wounds and restores in us the divine image which we have obscured by sin(58) and that the Christian roots of Europe, if rediscovered and revitalised, are able to instil a living hope and a new dynamic force in everyone, a force which will help all overcome the difficulties of the present moment and ensure a future of increasing spiritual and human progress.(59)

Nourishing these convictions is urgently needed today so as to offer a new hope to Europe, on the threshold of the new millennium. Indeed, "the Holy Door of the Year 2000 will open onto a society which must be illumined by the light of Christ. The ?old Europe' received the gift of the Gospel, but now calls for a renewed Christian proclamation, which will help individuals and nations to combine freedom and truth, while providing spiritual and ethical foundations for the economic and political unification of the continent.(60)

There is no doubt, then, that the renewal of European society can be firmly founded only on the Risen Christ; likewise, that the particular Churches with their Pastors will be able to contribute to such a renewal by drawing closer to Christ, putting their trust in him, present and alive in his Church until the end of time, and building their plans and pastoral activities on him alone.(61) Despite all the problems and difficulties, trust does not waver because–as the Holy Father has repeatedly said, in response to the voices of prophets of doom–"as the third millennium of the redemption draws near, God is preparing a great springtime for Christianity, and we can already see its first signs (Redemptoris missio, 86)(62)

38. From this point of view, there is a widespread conviction in thelocal Churches that Jesus Christ, alive in his Church, continues to be the source of hope for Europe. This is not happening by itself but to the degree that the particular Churches of today are making a concerted effort to give life to and re-present in time the evangelical activity of Jesus of Nazareth in his days on earth in their various manifestations, i.e., his humanity and humility; his sonship with the Father of life; his consecration by the Spirit and mission to the world; his deeds of compassion for the poor; his many actions directed to freeing people from various forms of oppression and restoring health, life and joy; his love for the truth, his witness of the kingdom of justice and peace and his total self-sacrifice.

Hence, most agree on the necessity of restoring a meaning to life in Europe today and creating the following conditions so that the Church can put into effect this presentation of Jesus as the hope of Europe: recognising in the Lord and his resurrection the source and wellspring of this hope; manifesting, in an intelligible yet stimulating manner, the person of Christ and Christian values; finding ways of opening persons and cultures to the supernatural; offering an experience of the healing power of divine mercy; preaching the faith in word and deed in a way intelligible to the people of today, especially the young; offering in particular cases the witness of communion in diversity, also in society.

The Church's contribution to increasing hope in Europe can be reasoned in the following manner: spirituality can represent a response to the emptiness and frustration of a consumer civilisation; the spirit of community can break preventative barriers, nationalism and the disintegration of society; and missionary witness is an expression of concern for the good of every individual so that he can discover the meaning of his life.

Basically, the Church's task is to believe and to proclaim in these times of pluralism that the Trinity is the source of life for every person and every aspect of the person; likewise, that the revelation of the Trinity is the foundation of the dignity of every man and woman as a child of God, called to live together in a community of love and construct it with the Spirit.

What also matters is being a Church which, in faithfulness to the theological tenets of the Creed–one, holy, catholic and apostolic–is capable of bearing witness to and offering the following: an authentic faith; fraternal charity; a life lived according to the beatitudes with Jesus as the model; a truly human and humble life; pardon in fellowship; and readiness to collaborate and work with people of good will for the good of all, especially the needy.

In such a Church, believers–united to the Father and consecrated in the Spirit of Truth–will know how to communicate hope, to make Jesus' life come alive in them, to walk with Jesus as pilgrims in the house of the Father. This they will do by being totally human and humble, by communicating compassion and forgiveness along with freedom and joy, by building justice and peace and by living, on a personal and liturgical level, a life of prayer as a personal encounter with the Lord.

39. Situations indicate, however, that the connection between Jesus Christ, the particular Churches and hope is not very evident in many communities. Various local Churches acknowledge a random existence of attitudes and conduct which obscure hope. Among these are the following: the temptation to give too much attention to temporal power, financial matters and a trouble-free running of organizations; a form–even if latent–of a new clericalism; the subtle tendency of serving self through authoritarianism in pastoral projects, with the danger of manipulating conscience and avoiding collaborating in the work of evangelisation; and the risk of yielding to hidden forms of paternalism in relation to charitable services and social assistance.

These situations call for: making an examination of conscience; taking time to renew a commitment to "conversion" so as to eliminate, or at least lessen, the difference, to a more or less degree, between the Gospel proclaimed in word and the Gospel lived in actions; giving time to fostering relations of true solidarity in particular Churches, between the rich and poor and between local Churches in Europe and those beyond, in a true openness to the world.

In communicating hope, mention must also be made of the following: fostering Christian formation for professionals, politicians and various persons in public life; using the mass media to create a public opinion animated by Christian values; forming, as a requirement of faith, a "sense" of being European and also part of the larger world.

Above all, some preliminary conditions are required so that the particular Churches can bring hope to Europe today, conditions whichdelineate the features of the particular Churches and characterise who she is and how she lives. The Synod intends to focus attention on these matters and to call for an examination of conscience.

A Church Recognising and Welcoming the Presence and Activity of Christ and his Spirit

40. Hope weakens or disappears in proportion to the weakening or disappearance of the belief that the Lord and his Spirit continue to be present in life's happenings, those of persons, families, society and the Church. Later, such an attitude degenerates into the idea that all life is left to chance and is, in some way, without meaning.

Since all indications point to the fact that these are critical times, the Church's unavoidable task is to believe in and bear witness to Jesus Christ's continuing presence in history with his gift of the Spirit. What is at stake isnourishing the conviction that the Spirit of Christ is present and at work, that he has always been present, that he is always at work and that his work surpasses all works. Unseen, oftentimes in little ways and in weak instruments, the Spirit is truly doing his part in what is the victorious fight. He prolongs in time and space the mission of the Lord Jesus; he is the fountain of life for the Church and travels the history of humanity as the sign of hope for all.

The Church is called to proceed in her life and mission by believing and professing in word and deed that the Spirit is capable of overcoming divisions and disunity, that he knows how to give peace to hearts and heal them through the joy of communion with the Father, who with the Son in the Spirit is the source of the Church's unity and renders the Christian community a sign, instrument and prophet witness to the unity of the world. The Church's task is to believe and consequently to recognise that in the Holy Spirit Jesus is today taking possession of hearts open to him in listening to the Word, participating in the sacraments, accepting the mystery of life and death and experiencing charity, solidarity and justice. The Church must believe and profess in word and deed and in a determined manner of living that the Holy Spirit is the Lord who gives life. In this way, she is to make the Living One present here and now, beyond all social, racial and cultural and religious barriers. The Church must believe and profess that this same Spirit is at work in hearts of each person, in the heart of cities and the history of Europe and the world so as to generate in them, today as yesterday, persons and groups who think, act and suffer as Jesus did, as true sons of God who give their lives for the brethren. Some indications of this manner of being and living are: the capability of realistically discerning the positive and negative conditions of the faith in the present times without reverting to a hollow optimism or a sterile pessimism, as well as the ability to intervene and foster the forging of a network of love relationships which are being formed by the Spirit himself in today's Europe and which are a reflection of the love of the Blessed Trinity.

If this were not so, even ecclesial communities would be tempted to forget the presence of the Spirit, which would inevitably lead to fatigue, delusion, a lack of meaning and the empty routine of pastoral work. Such a situation would indicate a lack of trust, characteristic of persons who think that God has abandoned a bad world to a battle in which indifference, selfishness and the forgetting of God little by little gain the upper hand. If this were the case, the Church, instead of being a bearer of hope, would contribute to the growing sense of sadness which seems to be appearing already all across Europe.

Some signs and God-given gifts which manifest the presence and action of the Spirit in these times and provide assistance in pursuing the future are the Second Vatican Council, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the celebration and documentation of the First Special Assembly for Europe of 1991.(63) Today, these three great gifts need to be constantly kept in mind because the Holy Spirit has caused them to take place in the Church?s pilgrim journey. The Spirit now calls upon the Church to consider not only how she has cherished these gifts and allowed herself to be guided by them in recent years but also how she will use them as gifts and indicators for the future.

A Church which Mirrors Christ and Reveals his Face

41. As previously mentioned, if the Church is related in every way to Christ, if she is the fruit of his act of total self-giving (cf. Eph 5:25) and if she is also that love present and at work in human history, she cannot place her trust in human strength nor base her pastoral activity on it. Instead, she relies on the grace of God, on his provident and omnipotent love, on the strength which is provided by Christ and his Spirit. Therefore, the living and life- giving basis for the Church's actions must be in her communion with Christ, in her ever-growing love for him and in her intimacy with him.

To mirror Christ clearly, the Church must contemplate Christ her Spouse with untiring love. Turning to him in prayer, listening to his word, meditating on his deeds, making his Paschal mystery her own and participating in his grace are the essential elements and obligatory conditions which allow the Church to mirror Christ, the source of trust and hope.

The first essential task is to examine the Church's features so as to render them more in conformity to the face of Christ. Indeed, the Church relies totally on the Word of the Lord who has begotten her. Therefore, in speaking of her, the Church's members must be aware that they are speaking of Jesus. In describing her features, they are must be aware that they are describing those of Jesus, so that contemplating his face can translate into actions, structures and ways of living in the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit.

To be capable of bearing witness to and spreading hope, the particular Churches in Europe must indeed desire to be the Body of Christ crucified in history, to mirror his face in time, to have confidence in the grace of the Spirit and to trust in the mercy of he who forgives those who disfigure this holy face each day. Today in particular, what matters is understanding, through contemplating the face of the man of sorrows before whom each person must cover his face, that the face of each Church member is no different from his and that weakness will be strength and victory, if the mystery of the weakness, humility and meekness of God is followed. This mystical character of the Church's "imitation of Christ" has inspired the Council. It is often repeated in the Council's documents and appears in various parts of the Constitution on the Church: "...on all men ought to shine that radiance of his which brightens the countenance of the Church.(64) "By the power of the risen Lord, she (the Church) is given strength to overcome patiently and lovingly the afflictions and hardships which assail her from within and without, and to show forth in the world the mystery of the Lord in a faithful though shadowed way.(65)

Hence, the Synod must call for and generate discussion on this subject, calling for a courageous and salutary examination of conscience.

42. Along the same lines, the question needs to be raised whether the success of pastoral activity–beyond programming and organisation, albeit necessary–is running the risk of being measured by the shear number of initiatives undertaken, the number of persons who respond or the ways and means at one's disposal. So as to combat every temptation to activism and to contribute to restoring hope, the particular Churches need to make every effort in their pastoral activity to maintain the primacy of the spiritual, primarily through a continual recourse to prayer, fully confident that prayer "means always a kind of ?confession', of recognising the presence of God in history and of his work on behalf of men and peoples" and that "at the same time, prayer promotes a closer union with him (God) and a reciprocal drawing closer to others.(66) Moreover, this needs to be done with the conviction that true renewal–even in society–cannot come about unless it begins in contemplation: "The meeting with God in prayer imbues the course of history with a mysterious force which touches hearts and leads them to conversion and renewal, and precisely in this regard it becomes a powerful historical force in the transformation of social structures.(67)

The Synod needs to look at the particular Churches in Europe from this perspective to see if, before "doing" something, they praise God, recognise his absolute primacy and spend time before him in silent adoration.

Ascertaining the Needs and Demands of Spirituality

43. Regarding the basic conditions which will enable the local Churches in Europe to be bearers of joyous hope, various responses mention that, despite the negative effects of secularisation taking place on the European continent, many people, especially the young, are calling and searching for the spiritual. Though at times indeterminate, and in some cases "rudimentary", these signs displayed by people need to be interpreted and guided by calling upon and assisting persons to put into action the basic features of an authentic Christian spirituality, i.e., personal conversion, active participation in the Church, following the Lord and serving others. The ideal of self-realisation in a world of individualism, subjectivism, pragmatism and hedonism can provoke a kind of destruction of religious symbolism in the world and aggravate the crisis of traditional religious language. At the same time, it can stimulate the search for various types of religious experience to fill a person's need of acceptance, warmth in interpersonal relationships, personal gratification, support and security. Similarly, so as not to be overcome by the present disintegration of society, this search for identity has contributed to the success of new forms of religious expression and the emergence of new religious movements outside of the Church, parallel belief systems, "sects", new forms of fundamentalism, the attraction of Eastern religions, "New Age" and, even, recourse to various forms of Satanism.

In general, it can be said that the map of religious practice of Europeans, especially of the younger generations, has particular features. On the one hand, the traditional model of religious expression is eroding and various religious beliefs are growing weak; on the other, there is a general increase in the need for religious points of reference, security and spirituality, all of which are oftentimes very broad, vague and indistinct in nature, with no immediate effect on moral conduct and personal choices.

In a more positive vein, numerous communities in both the East and West are witnessing the passage from a routine ritual practice of religion to one of greater conviction and personal involvement. A free decision and commitment to belong to the Church translates into the virtuous behaviour, authentic spirituality and committed apostolic service–seen in many countries, albeit in the minority, in a more or less consistent way–of Christian men and women, including a number of communities of consecrated life and lay associations associated with them, members of groups and Church movements as well as individuals and families in various parishes.

44. At the same time, some Christian communities are marked by some worrying concerns, such as: the decline in personal and family prayer; the abandonment of the Sacrament of Penance; the pursuit of miraculous and the extraordinary events; the flight towards esoteric religious experiences and the sects.

The situation urgently calls for a profound discernment so as to overcome the risk of a syncretistic, selective spirituality in which a person chooses from among the various "offerings to life's meaning" elements adapted to his particular circumstances. Such a spirituality is incapable of lending itself to a faith actually lived. Instead, an authentic ecclesial spirituality needs to take the various elements and paths and, not allowing them to degenerate into dangerous forms of division, integrate and complement them in action. Likewise, the link between the personal and communal dimension needs emphasis so as not to reduce spirituality to a kind of "private practice of religion".

Finally, among the means which foster and educate people in forming a correct Christian spirituality the following are mentioned: the creation of various small communities–some charismatic in nature; the promotion of small groups with an emphasis on spirituality; establishment of centres of spirituality and the continual updating of those already existing; the organisation of pilgrimages to shrines and places which offer a meaningful experience of prayer, contemplation, silence and asceticism (especially monastic and religious houses); planning spiritual retreats for married couples and the young; the new catechumenate for baptised adults; providing contemporary literature on topics related to spirituality; programs to make parish communities more spiritually vital and richer in prayer; and above all, placing at life's centre the Word of God and meditation on its contents, especially through the method of lectio divina. Because of its relevance almost everywhere on the continent, such a spirituality ought to include a proper Christian practice of devotion to Mary and popular devotions.

The Church: True Place of Communion

45. To enable the Church to be seen as the living body of Christ, a credible sign of the Father's presence working through Christ the Saviour in the power of the Holy Spirit and bearer of the new life within the history of huamnity, the disciples of Christ need to be intimately united in love. Only in this way can they mirror the Trinity. "Even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (Jn 17:21). Indeed, if the Eucharist is the fullest presence of the Risen Lord, love for one another, lived as the Gospel teaches, is the clearest sign of the Lord's presence. Such an example has a great effect on people and leads them to the faith.

The question, then, arises as to what image needs to be projected by the Christian community to announce, celebrate and serve "The Gospel of Hope".

The response must be sought in a model of a caring, mission-minded community to be built up in each particular Church with major decisiveness and consistency.

These are the essential features of the face of a Church community which is alive and capable of generating and forming the faith in people today: an atmosphere of warm relationships, communication, service, shared responsibility and participation, a widespread missionary awareness, and attention to various forms of poverty; a culture of mutual concern as exemplified in the writings of St. Paul: to esteem one another, to welcome one another, to be built up, to be servants of one another, to bear one another's burdens, forgiving one another, encouraging one another (cf. Rm 12:10; 15:7.14; Gal 5:13; 6:2; Col 3:13; 1 Thess 5:11); an appreciation for the variety of charisms, vocations and responsibilities in such a way as to work towards unity and enrich it (cf. 1 Cor 12); a friendly collaboration among the various associations of the faithful; a large number of pastoral workers, qualified in spirituality, theology and pastoral work, in affective and effective communion with their bishop and priests, might be responsible for specific ecclesial services; a revitalisation of participatory structures which can be seen as signs and effective instruments, fostering the growth of communion and the promotion of a harmonious missionary activity; a unified yet differentiated ecclesial pastoral program; and local educational and missionary pastoral programs, open to the universal mission ad gentes.

Towards Assessing Communion in the Church

46. Generally speaking, despite the noteworthy progress in devising a theology of koinonia, an inadequate exchange continues to exist in the Church. For this reason, the implications of the theology of communion at various levels need to be thoroughly examined in an honest dialogue. Such a dialogue would include the relations between the one who presides over universal communion and the particular Churches, relations within the particular Churches, and the day-to-day life of the local Churches, especially the decision-making processes.

Some of the more concrete and obvious signs which are indicative of the communion of the Church in Europe are: the associative life of groups and movements; the increase in volunteer programs; the numerous initiatives of solidarity towards the needy, both on the national level and in poorer countries, especially in the southern hemisphere and the East. Many elements of communion and unity inside the Christian community deserve mention: the indisputable fact that the parish community is the fundamental place of communion; the communion of the presbyterate and the communion of various communities through new forms of association (as so-called "pastoral sectors"); missionary cooperation; the cooperation between the local Churches in the mission ad gentes, both in announcing the Gospel and in forms of concrete solidarity with the poorer particular Churches through various means, among which the practice of communities adopting a "sister Church" is to be cited.

47. For a correct vision and experience of the Church as communion, thecentral role of the parish needs emphasis as the place where, despite its fragile nature, the values of communion and co-responsibility can be put into action in a tangible, unified manner. The parish, however, needs to be seen and experienced as the privileged place of pastoral co-responsibility, missionary dynamism and ordinary pastoral activity, where the faith can be accessible to all in the everyday circumstances of life. Indeed, the parish remains the place "where the faithful of different mentalities can share in the same liturgy, where specialised movements come together, where the activities of catechesis, formation, sacrament preparation, apostolate and charity are coordinated without division.(68) In this regard, emphasis needs to be placed on the importance of properly coordinating and integrating the various ecclesial movements in the parish community. In this setting, these movements can give impetus to mission and contribute to growth in the spiritual life and to the formation of the young as well as share in apostolic work related to various sectors of life and offer constant, effective welcome and service to the needy.(69)

In their relations, some Christian communities are marked, to a more or less degree, by attitudes and conduct which range from sincere acceptance or simple tolerance to mutual distancing and polemical problems; some even arrive at the point of outright rejection. In such situations, many have emphasised the value for communion of all those initiatives which, at the parish and inter-parish level, aim at advancing projects which take into consideration the circumstances of life and the real situation of those involved.

48. Many responses treat the subject of women in society and the Church, noting the real progress which has taken place in various ecclesial communities–very meaningful and courageous in some, less advanced and modest in others–in correcting misconceptions and promoting the equal dignity of women, the idea of equal rights and duties of men and women in the various sectors of family and social life, and the specific contribution of the Church's women in her life and evangelising activity. It is to be readily admitted, however, that, in some particular Churches, there is still much to be done in this regard.

Another area where the Church's credibility as promoter of communion is at stake is her attitude and conduct towards persons who find themselves in irregular marriage situations. In this case, the challenge is essentially to proclaim moral values in faithfulness to the Gospel as well as to be a community of welcome and support.

Finally, some give an urgency and importance to communion among the local Churches in and outside Europe through contacts which must become an authentic and mutual "exchange of gifts".

49. Another topic to receive treatment is that of the relationship and collaboration between priests and laity. In this regard, mention is made of a variety of situations and, at times, opposition, though in these cases most agree on the desire to achieve a good cooperation. This work should not be done only in response to the emergency situations resulting from the lack of priests but ought to be founded on the ever-increasing conviction that the ordained ministry and the common priesthood, though differing from each other in essence and not only in degree, are nonetheless interrelated and mutually complete each other.(70)

As a result of the existence of various councils and structures of participation at the parochial level and beyond, a positive development in collaboration–and oftentimes in co-responsibility–is present among those who are actively involved in the life of the ecclesial community. This cooperation is based on a respect for the roles and competency of each as well as a recognised equality. In addition to parish life, this tendency is also seen in new movements and communities of the consecrated life.

Numerous situations, however, continue to exist in which priests maintain a rather domineering, authoritarian mentality which does not properly acknowledge the maturity of the faithful laity and their condition as adults who have responsibilities in many sectors of family and social life, nor the precious contribution which they can offer to the ecclesial community. Though there are signs that such a situation is progressively changing, oftentimes an effective collaboration in a shared mission remains a distant reality.

There are many particular Churches where the collaboration of priest and laity is not seen as a priority.

With reference to Central and Eastern Europe, there is in some cases a slowness to deal in an explicit, precise way with collaboration between priests and laity. This is oftentimes due to the fact that during the communist regime the assumption of responsibility and initiatives, in addition to being not taught or encouraged, was often forbidden and repressed. On the other hand, however, if the truth be told, during the years of dictatorship many lay people exercised a real–though sometimes hidden and concealed–ecclesial co-responsibility, often joined to heroic forms of testimony to the faith and love for the Church. This situation can serve as a valuable preliminary in working towards a more definite, structured collaboration with priests.

A profound change in mentality is needed in each and every situation, a mentality which is requires time, patience and formation on the part of those involved.

50. Another area of communion to be considered by the local Churches is the attention and concern towards those living on the fringes of the Christian community, especially those who can be termed "distant", so as to avoid being morally judgmental.

Among the ways the Church can express the face of communion towards these people is primarily by way of personal contact done at special occasions in the course of life, such as: the preparation and celebration of the sacraments for their children; the moment of celebration of a marriage or a funeral; moments of real crisis; certain liturgical or popular feasts and festivals; religious trips and pilgrimages; annual blessing of families; and parish missions.

Many specific initiatives are being promoted in some particular Churches, for example: sponsored encounters for people from the diverse human sciences with a qualified witness from Catholic circles; cultural encounters by means of radio and television; placing of the Catholic perspective in the secular press and addressing various thoughts of secular authors in the Catholic press; and places of encounter and listening at various levels.

The possibilities provided by specialised pastoral activity, e.g., the pastoral care of the military, are also greatly valued. In this area, the role which can be exercised by Catholic schools–oftentimes sought by those who are not particularly close to the Church–and the teaching of religion in State- run schools are also highlighted. Still another valuable opportunity comes in the artistic and cultural fields which can provide points of encounter with those "far from the Church".

Not to be underestimated–though sometimes difficult to specify–is the extensive network of contacts created in families, the workplace, social relations and free time between Christians who are said to be practising, active or with some religious sensitivity and those who are partial and wavering in Church participation. These are vital places where a Gospel "put in action" has a more spontaneous, incisive effect than a Gospel "proclaimed in word only".


ANNOUNCING "THE GOSPEL OF HOPE"
MARTYRIA

An "Added Soul" for Europe

51. At this great turning point in history, as the face of Europe and the world is undergoing a transformation, a renewed and urgent need for evangelisation is becoming evident: "Today the Church senses that the Master is asking her to intensify her efforts for evangelisation ad intra and ad extra. She always feels she is a missionary Church, a Church sent to sow the seed of the word of God in the soil of the contemporary world.(71)

If this indeed be the challenge facing the Church today, it is insufficient to simply appeal in a nostalgic or romantic way to Europe's great heritage, to its Christian roots and Christian soul.

In this regard, only a few responses maintain that today's Europe has a Christian soul. Indeed, such an affirmation raises serious questions considering European history in this century with its dramatic events, conflicts, human oppression and accompanying ideologies, and the diverse cultural phenomena–negative and exceedingly problematic–which now exist in Europe. Perhaps, it would be more acceptable to maintain that these aspects–past and present–are now entangled in the deep Christian roots of Europe, and that, though greatly deteriorated because of the process of secularisation, these roots are not completely decayed. A considerable yearning for the sacred and a promising return to religion still exist. At the same time, however, it cannot be overlooked that the Europe of today–and increasingly that of the future–is a profoundly multi-cultural and multi- religious reality which is witnessing the increasing presence of Islam, in addition to a widespread religious indifference.

As the First Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops initially insisted, no one wishes to propose that Europe and Christianity are one and the same thing. This was never the case and is even less likely today. However, it can be said that Europe and European culture might have common roots. No one can doubt that the Christian faith is fundamentally and decisively a part of Europe's identity. Christianity has certainly given form to Europe, communicating such fundamental values as: faith in a transcendent God who out of love entered into the life of humanity; the new essential concept of the centrality of the human person and his dignity which can be said to be the primary reference point and principal mark of a European identity; and the family of humanity as a unifying principle amidst a diversity of persons and peoples.(72)

Instead, many concerned and responsible persons on the continent, recognising and revitalising this valuable heritage, have recommended, among other things, that Europe in the process of being born today needs an "added soul"?

To achieve this, the Church relies on no other power and no other path than that of the Gospel. Once again, the urgency and importance arises of the "new evangelisation" of which the Holy Father speaks so untiringly and with particular reference to Europe. Of course, this work does not require a new beginning, though it must start with basics, that is, being concerned again with the foundation, that is, Jesus Christ and God of Jesus Christ and the directly related topic of the transcendent dimension of the human person, with the conviction that the person's centrality in morality cannot endure for long if deprived of its ontological underpinnings. It is not enough to propose Gospel and human values such as justice, peace and freedom; not because they are not essential, but because what is at stake is something more basic and fundamental.(73)

The New Evangelisation

52. Today, it is generally agreed that the new evangelisation is a primary task in the Church's life and activity. At times, this work runs the risk of limiting itself to an proclamation in word which makes an appeal in a language and reasoning oftentimes abstract. Hence, the need to proceed still farther along the path so that the new evangelisation might become the priority in all the Church's pastoral activities.

Many responses mention that the new evangelisation is not perceived as a primary task or is meeting resistence through a lingering, conservative mentality or a misunderstanding of the new evangelisation and its meaning.

In these cases, some suggested assessing its verbal formulation to see if it would be better to speak of a "re-evangelisation" more than "a new evangelisation". This would underline that it is not a matter of preaching a new Gospel but of proclaiming the one and only Gospel of Jesus Christ, alive in his Church, to all generations with new methods and means, in a new context and with new force, in the conviction that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (Heb 13:8).

53. As mentioned above, the principal objective of the new evangelisation and its essential content is proclaiming the person of Jesus Christ as the one and only source of salvation for all humanity. This can be done in a variety of ways: "proclaiming" Jesus and one's faith in him on public occasions and in friendly dialogue; performing concrete actions in personal, family and communal life which mirror the Gospel and, in this manner, "draw" others to the faith in the Lord, like a lamp on a lamp stand or a city on a mountain top, "radiating" joy, love and hope to those nearby, so that others might see these good works and give glory to the Father who is in heaven (cf. Mt 5:16), so that this enthusiasm might become "contagious" and people might be overpowered by love in beholding the compelling, inspiring conduct of individuals, groups and communities (cf. 1 Pt 3:1-2); and becoming the "yeast" to transform, vivify and animate from the inside every cultural expression. Though these ways are not always sufficiently identified and oftentimes not fully integrated among themselves, in every case they are all part of the call for a "new" evangelisation.

The implication is that "new" must be applied to the task of evangelisation, because the barriers and resistence to the power and the truth of the Gospel are "new". In particular, modern man tends to place his trust in science and reason, using elements from them alone to give meaning to life and human conduct. On this basis, an absolute, unlimited value is attached to freedom; faith is thereby perceived as a limit to scientific and technological power as well as an unacceptable oppression of freedom. Without reducing everything exclusively to spiritual realities, there is a need to show, in word and witness, the reasonableness of the faith and, at the same time, to persuade others to understand that reason and freedom, without the light of faith, do not lead to the hoped-for goals but become a danger for man and society.

The tragic events of this century ought to be a permanent warning in the face of the recurring trend to make individual or moral rights absolute. The proclamation and witness of the Gospel afford the greatest resource for giving to Europe that indispensable and much-desired spirit which has the ability to allow the economy to serve the common good, politics to be the place of responsible far-sighted decisions, social life to be the place for the promotion of all those who make up society, from the family to groups which are part of the living fabric of the new European community.

54. In many cases the new evangelisation has in fact placed theproclamation of the person of Jesus in a central position, with an increase being seen particularly in preaching and catechesis. This is one of many requirements arising from the present socio-cultural situation where the figure of Jesus has a significant power of attraction for people today, especially the young, and where a personal relationship with him carries great importance and meaning. In this regard, however, vigilance is needed so that Jesus Christ is not presented simply as an model of conduct or an example to be followed but also–and primarily–as the Son of the living God and the one and only Saviour necessary for salvation. Hence, the need for a systematic catechesis, a proper and constant reliance on the Word of God and an appropriate living of the Paschal Mystery.

The perception of the Lord Jesus as "alive in his Church" appears more difficult in certain instances. In fact, many Church members, while speaking of the importance of their relationship with Jesus, do not see or maintain as equally important a relation to the Church. This may result because some people's concrete experience is based on a Church who does not at times clearly mirror the Lord. Moreover, this attitude is often accompanied–in part as a result of the influence exercised by the mass media–by one which sees the Church as a marginal reality to society, and sometimes reduces her role, as some mention, to dispensing social or charitable services. In this same view, the Church's task of guidance is undervalued or even denied and ridiculed.

Once again, this situation highlights the urgent need for the Church to conform her features to those of Christ her Lord; actually to be a community of faith and love and authentically to project that image; to foster and maintain the encounter with the Risen Christ for men and women today; and to be a genuine place of Gospel witness by each of her members and the entire community.

55. Particular attention also must be given to the relation of freedom to evangelisation. In such a subject, there is common agreement that the new current of freedom which is sweeping across all countries in Europe is certainly a Gospel value. However, some people mention that true freedom is not always experienced and lived. Undoubtedly, freedom permits a massive network of relationships, communication and solidarity among people, cultures, social and political systems and different religious faiths. This is a significant meaningful part of the new evangelisation of Europe which in the recent past has been the theatre for deep divisions, painful conflicts and tragic wars.

Some ask that the true meaning of freedom be clarified, since oftentimes the conception of freedom promoted in Europe today is based on a neo-liberal, individualistic and utilitarian vision of reality and, as such, does not favour evangelisation but places obstacles in its path.

Others recall that Christianity, in particular the Church, is often seen as an obstacle and enemy of freedom. Moreover, the attempt is also made to persuade persons and the whole of society that God is an obstacle on the path towards freedom. In responding to such thinking, the Church needs to mirror the true face of the God of Jesus Christ, who does not put obstacles in the path of freedom but is the guarantor of true freedom. At the same time, the Church has to know how to show others that she is ready to listen to people's questions and problems, offering them the Gospel as a response in truth and charity, and in a climate–as one person mentioned–of authentic fellowship, like that which "characterises a synod" and experienced in the Church-at-large, in individual episcopal conferences, among the diverse local Churches and among Church institutions on the regional or universal level.

56. The new evangelisation in Europe today is encountering a variety ofobstacles and difficulties.

Many countries are experiencing social and cultural phenomena such as: various forms of religious difference; a kind of pluralism which is undifferentiated and tending towards skepticism or agnosticism; moral relativism; the burden of a relentless liberalism in the West and its growing influence in Eastern Europe; a widespread emphasis on material interests which breeds a climate of practical materialism and individualistic hedonism; a superficiality in interpersonal relationships; individualism and disinterest in the face of urgent compelling situations in many areas of civil and social life; the increasingly decisive and persuasive role of the means of social communication; a certain fundamentalism and sectarian fanaticism in some countries; and a sense of self-complacency, at times, in persons who believe they already have sufficient knowledge of the Gospel.

Some particular Churches are facing other difficulties in the work of evangelisation. Among these, various persons mention: the growing old of persons active in evangelisation, the inadequacy of much religious terminology and a lack of a sense of authority in viewing the hierarchy.

A difficulty peculiar to the Church and communities in Western Europe is the increased age of the clergy, of those belonging to institutes of consecrated life and of the laity involved actively in the life of parishes, all of which offers an image of an aging, lethargic Church and hinders the influx of vocations, thus rendering a creative commitment in evangelisation rather difficult.

Some make reference to an ineffectiveness and misunderstanding of the language and teachings of the magisterium. Oftentimes, the language of faith used in official Church texts, in preaching and in catechesis appears far removed from ordinary human experience. Hence, the need to find a new language which presents the holy, unfathomable mystery of God in a more penetrating, convincing manner, and which comes from a meditative listening to the Scriptures and persons, thus permitting the questions to arise from their problems and points of view. Some also mention that the crisis in authority towards pronouncements of the Church is due to the fact that oftentimes the magisterium is perceived as making assertions in the field of faith and morals without presenting the underlying reasons in a convincing manner and without seriously responding to opposing positions and arguments.

57. A key element among the aims of evangelisation in the present-day European cultural context is that of good example or vibrant clear signs which are capable of manifesting the presence of the Lord in such a manner as to inspire and, at the same time, cause a questioning of conscience. Indeed, it has been proven that "contemporary man listens more to witness than to teachers or if he listens to teachers he does so because they are witnesses.(74) Consequently, so as to evangelise, individual Churches and the Church-at-large must offer in faithfulness to the Lord a testimony of life, poverty, detachment, or to use a single word, holiness.

Therefore, the presence and testimony of saints is decisive. Holiness is an essential pre-requisite for an authentic evangelisation capable of restoring hope. What is needed is a forceful witness–both personal and communal–of the new life received in Christ. In addition to offering truth and grace through the proclamation of the Word and the celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacraments, it is necessary that individual Christians and entire ecclesial communities receive, live and bear witness to their vocation to holiness in all their relations and life's everyday activities. Discourses and rites, no matter how beautiful, require forms of living which are beautiful, meaningful and winsome. To the degree that Christians and ecclesial communities accept, live and manifest the love of God, they accept, live and manifest Christ in their midst, allowing him to encounter the indifferent and non-believers and to cause in them a fruitful questioning of conscience.

58. Finally, the work of evangelisation takes place in an assortment of surroundings and in various ways. A few to be mentioned and given particular attention are the following: the young, the poor, tasks in social and political life and the means of social communications.

The young represent the future of Europe; the insufficient exchange between generations has left them in great need. In this regard, every effort must be made to provide occasions which will allow them to grow in the faith and which will assist them to find in the Gospel the response to their search for happiness, truth and justice and permit them to be evangelisers themselves.

In a Europe which measures everything in economic terms, the Church remains one of the bulwarks advocating attention towards "the least" of society and safeguarding human dignity. These fundamental values demand the formulation of appropriate approaches in culture and society to ensure that the Church, who never tires in her efforts in the religious sphere, make her due contribution at this decisive moment when the foundations of the future of Europe are being laid.

The res novae created in Europe–if it is not to degenerate into new forms of non-recognition and denial of spiritual values–require in Christians an abundant amount of moral conscience and evangelical inspiration. Hence, an adequate formation is urgently needed for lay people involved in areas of social and political life.

The Church cannot contribute to culture without communication and evangelisation. Hence, the Church urgently needs to exercise a presence in the new areas of communication, through attention towards the media and their wise use and an working pastoral program in social communications.

59. Some responses highlight as the most significant initiatives undertaken by various particular Churches in Europe in the new evangelisation, those which seek to respond to the important demands and questions of today.

Under this heading the follow can be given as examples: instances of a renewed dedication to education, catechesis and cultural encounters which go to the heart of faith, in response to the requirements of an authentic faith; personal and associative forms of evangelising directed at bring about reconciliation, mutual acceptance, generous service and dialogue, in response to the demands for fellowship and caring which is on the decline among many people and societies; evangelising initiatives directed at rediscovering the inviolable dignity of every human person and the meaning of life, in response to the widespread anthropological questioning; various forms of living offered in parochial communities, individual associations and schools of formation, intended to illicit a greater commitment to social and political life as well as research centres on participation in civic life, in response to questions related to morals and civic life; and pastoral programs for the young geared towards a real, joy-filled rediscovery of the Lord and adhesion to him to assist them make effective life-choices in the Church and society, in response to the various questions advanced by youth today.

Evangelisation and Ecumenism

60. The ecumenical movement is surely among the important aspects of the work of evangelisation. Indeed, the unity of believers in Christ, especially in Europe, would undoubtedly be a fundamental opportunity to give a new impetus to the faith and its impact in the cultural and social spheres. To achieve this, the ecumenical question–in light of what has been done in recent years in response to the First Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops(75)–must receive attention at the Synod.

Despite the persistence here and there of certain attitudes of resistence to ecumenical dialogue, most are convinced that the lack of unity among Christians weakens the communal testimony of the faith and, consequently,urgently requires a close collaboration with other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities. Considerable progress has been achieved in this regard through the active involvement of local communities, communities of consecrated life and Church persons working in this area to sponsor meetings and dialogue in the Church on the diocesan, regional and national levels. Despite the lack of action in this field in some places where Churches and ecclesial communities are in the minority, there is still to be found, even in these countries, a growing awareness of the undeniable ecumenical dimension of the Church's life and mission.

Listed among the factors contributing to fostering and spreading ecumenical sensitivity are: encounters such as those at Graz and those called according to the "spirit of Assisi"; and a "practical ecumenism" exercised in the daily life of many faithful as well as in social and charitable areas. Not to be overlooked in ecumenical dialogue is the relevance of monastic life in Eastern and Western Europe and the role of art and culture.

Concerning the doctrinal aspect, some responses–while mentioning a willingness to search for ways to hold meetings and reach theological agreements, the positive affects of which can already be seen in some common declarations(76) –insist that reaching unity must not to be done at the expense of the truth and that a "superficial ecumenism" would be counterproductive to a truly strong unity in the faith and in a "reconciled diversity".

61. At the same time, however, moments of difficulty or even crisis are to be found almost everywhere.

In particular, with the fall of the Berlin wall and the expansion of Europe, relations with the Orthodox Churches have become a great challenge as a result of the following: an increasing mutual mistrust; problems involved in the restitution of buildings of worship and other Church goods; the juridic recognition of various Catholic institutions; limitations on the possibility, parameters and methods of evangelisation activities; and problems connected with the possibility and practice of "intercommunion".

Strong tensions have arisen especially in the Orthodox Churches' relations with the Catholic Oriental Churches. At times, mutual relations are difficult and confrontational. Nevertheless, there are indications that tensions are lessening and difficulties are being overcome; that attempts are being made to establish more friendly ties leading to a greater mutual awareness and to fostering interaction between those engaged in these affairs; and that opportunity is being given for moments of cultural encounter, an exchange of professors in some institutions and mutual representation at some liturgical feasts.

In countries with a Protestant majority, problems often occur as a result of differences arising from teachings on some moral matters.

In Dialogue with Judaism and Other Religions

62. The First Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops considering the importance of the new evangelisation and what it required, encouraged work towards establishing and pursuing a special ongoing relationship with Jews, the Church's "elder brothers", convinced that "joint work at various levels between Christians and Jews–taking into account differences and particular doctrines of each religion–could have great significance in Europe's future, civil and religious, and its role in the rest of the world.(77) This is true not only because the faith and Jewish culture are elements in the development of European civilisation, but also because Christians and Jews share common roots. Indeed, the Church, in virtue of her origins, has an inherent, enduring and unique relationship with the Jewish People. Consequently, dialogue with Judaism is of fundamental importance in Christian self-awareness and in the ecumenical movement.

The Synod then must ascertain what has taken place in these years and how to continue on the path pursued. In particular, what matters is not simply condemning and rejecting all forms of anti-Semitism at every level, but work needs to be done in a more positive, basic way to produce "a new spring in mutual relationships.(78) This would bring about, among other things: a recognition of the singular role of Israel in the story of Salvation, a reading of the New Testament which does not place it before the Old Testament, nor in a position against it, but in continuity to it; a veneration for the mystery of the Jewish People; a knowledge of its history, religious traditions, culture and spiritual richness; and the establishment of true fraternal friendship and collaboration with those belonging to the Jewish community, to the point of developing a shared responsibility in light of the problems of European society and individual countries.

63. The influx of migration, intensifying contact with persons of other religious traditions, increasingly requires a greater awareness of the responsibility on the part of the Church and all Christians to announce the Gospel in this multi-cultural and multi-religious context. The Synod and the Christian Churches and ecclesial communities in Europe must become involved in this task.

Eight years ago, the First Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops insisted on the necessity that "we need to know other religions better in order to talk fraternally with people who profess such religions and live among us.(79) Giving pastoral attention to diverse religious traditions in activities of charity and assistance is not enough, nor is a joint endeavour by Christians and those belonging to other religions in pursuit of justice, peace, freedom and ecology. Instead, the Church urgently needs to take a hard look at stimulating the recovery and deepening of the fundamental values of the Christian tradition. This is because "the observation of freedom and a correct awareness of values found in other religious traditions must not lead to relativism or lessen our awareness of the necessity and urgency of the commandment to preach Christ(80)and because a sincere and prudent dialogue, far from weakening the faith, must render it stronger and deeper.(81)

64. In a particular way, given the relevance of the increasing presence ofIslam in Europe, dialogue with Muslims becomes all the more necessary; but it "needs to be conducted prudently, with clear ideas about possibilities and limits and with confidence in God's saving plan towards all his children. Reciprocity is necessary in relationships for there to be sincere mutual solidarity, particularly with regard to the area of religious freedom, which is a right based on the dignity of the human person, and for that reason it must be observed everywhere on earth.(82) There is a need then to face the challenges posed by this situation in a serious, farsighted manner. To promote a precise analysis and an adequate discernment of the diverse currents of Islam present in Europe and continue an honest dialogue with Muslims. "It is a question of getting to know their moral and spiritual values and, at the same time, allowing them to have a correct understanding of the faith and life of the Church that is at their side. In that regard, it is useful for priests and laity to be well-trained to conduct such a dialogue and to guide the communities that are more closely involved.(83)

The Problem of the Sects

65. Proclaiming "The Gospel of Hope" today must also take into account the complexity and variety of phenomena related to the sects. Their varied origins already give them a diversity among themselves. Therefore, a distinction must be made between sects of Christian origin and those based on other religions or a certain kind of humanism. When sects have a Christian origin, they can be amply distinguished from the Church, ecclesial communities or legitimate movements inside the Church. Sects also differ in relation to size, beliefs, attitudes and behaviour towards other religious groups and society. Generally speaking, however, sects can be said to be relatively small religious groups which promote a strong identity in their followers to the point of complete dependency. Oftentimes, they clearly oppose religion and society, employ very aggressive propaganda methods, provide an intensely welcoming climate for persons reacting to situations of isolation and expound messages on apocalyptic events, beliefs in the afterlife and a future "new world".

Various interpretations are given to this phenomenon. For some, the presence of sects is a by-product of today's secularisation; for others, they are the effect of the crisis of technical-scientific rationalism which pursues the "other" and personal gratification. For still others, they are a reaction to the bureaucratisation and feelings of anonymity in some religious experiences of those in search for communities where a person emotionally feels a sense of belonging. Finally, some maintain that sects simply reveal a need for religion and, therefore, are a clear indication–positive or negative–of the vitality of religion at the end of the century.

66. In every case, the phenomenon of the sects is a call to the particular Churches to take action.

Oftentimes, in both East and West, the local Churches seek to face this phenomenon with initiatives aimed at making their local communities friendlier, warmer places where persons can satisfy the expectations which are partially fulfilled in the frequently personal approach of the sects. Generally speaking, the local Churches are seeking to prevent the spread of this phenomenon through a more effective formation of the faithful. In many countries, institutional structures also exist on the diocesan and inter- diocesan level which are charged with responding to this phenomenon in formation programs and counselling.

Basically speaking, the Church is asked to make an ardent examination of conscience and to foster a profound renewal in light of not only possible lethargy, lacunae and distortions in her pastoral activity but also in the awareness of her supreme duty to announce to all people Jesus Christ, the one and only Saviour of humanity. The Church's response must be "global" in nature, touching the everyday lives of all the faithful (laity, consecrated persons and the clergy) and including families, parishes, associations and diverse groups and ecclesial movements. Likewise, it must allow Christians to grow in the faith and to regain joy, enthusiasm and pride in their identity in the Church as followers of Jesus as well as sustain and encourage the primacy of spirituality. The Holy Father has stated: "the alarming phenomenon of the sects must be met with a pastoral action that places at its centre the whole person, his social dimension and his longing for a personal relationship with God. It is a fact that wherever the Church's presence is dynamic, as is the case in parishes in which people receive a good formation in the word of God, where there is an active, participatory liturgy, a solid Marian piety, effective solidarity in the social field, a marked pastoral solicitude for the family, young people and the sick, we see that the sects or para-religious movements do not have the chance to infiltrate or advance.(84)


CELEBRATING "THE GOSPEL OF HOPE"
LEITOURGIA

 

The Presence of the Risen Christ in the Sacred Mysteries

67. Today more than ever, celebrating "The Gospel of Hope" means that the Church must recognise the living active presence of the risen Lord in the "sacred mysteries," and seek and find in them the strength and nourishment for a proper pastoral activity, bearing witness in this manner to her identity as the community of disciples, united around Christ, who put their faith and hope in him.

This was the earnest intention of the liturgical reform fostered by the Second Vatican Council. Indeed, such reform is not only "a desire for change, which seems to be typical of our time, or a legitimate wish to adapt the celebration of the sacred mysteries to the sensitivities and culture of our day. In fact, behind this phenomenon lies the aspiration of believers to live and to express their deepest and most authentic identity as disciples gathered around Christ, present in their midst in a unique way through his Word and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7)(85) It is certainly true that–again in the Holy Father's words–"in this way not only is the edifice of the faith built on firm and lastly foundations (cf. Lk 6:48), but all Christian communities become aware of their duty to celebrate the mystery of Christ, Saviour of the human race, to proclaim him and to make him openly known to the people of today. In doing so, they must overcome the temptation they sometimes feel within and outside themselves to attribute other identities and interests to the Church. Indeed, the Church lives more on what she receives from her Lord than on what she can do with her own strength alone.(86)

Towards an Assessment of Liturgical Life

68. Concerning the encounter with the mystery of God the Trinity as revealed in Jesus, a consideration of the concrete situations of the particular Churches provides a wide range of experiences and circumstances in the liturgy and other forms of worship.

In communities where an adequate catechesis and liturgical formation provide for a due preparation, liturgical celebrations are particularly meaningful moments of fervent encounter with the mystery of God and genuine communion among brothers and sisters who share the one faith in praise, prayers and deeds of mutual joyous acceptance. In both East and West such experiences are also widespread in renewed religious communities, in new foundations of consecrated life and in new ecclesial movements.

There are also communities which record a long tradition of Mass attendance on feasts and daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Marian devotions. Many prefer to encounter the mystery of the living God in expressions of worship which are deeply rooted in their popular religious traditions. In these cases, the value of religious fervour and popular piety is to be assessed and guided.

Generally speaking, a true liturgical reform must be acknowledged to be taking place, even if it does not always give rise to an authentic and profound liturgical renewal and much remains to be done to intensify the "active participation" by all the faithful, desired and urged by the Council. In every case, the liturgy remains central in the program of growing in the faith.

69. At the same time, certain responses mention somewhat problematic situations.

In many countries of the West, liturgical celebrations are frequented almost exclusively by children and older people, especially women. The young and middle-aged are few in number. Such a situation runs the risk of projecting an image of a Church which is only for the elderly, women and children.

In both the East and West, the following experiences are noted: a concern to attract people overshadows the dimension of mystery, adoration and praise; and an overemphasis on ritual gestures, the community aspect and quality of celebrating by the celebrant and/or active members of the assembly. Such situations lead to, among other things, an image of a Church which is undoubtedly lively yet the externals and emotion are given more attention than the intimacy of the encounter with the holy mystery of God.

In some liturgical celebrations and devotional practices, the inordinate attention to ritual contributes to making them spiritually arid and discouraging for many people. Conversely, some speak of experiences which, so as to reach those in a world in which the emotional side of religion is emphasised, choose not to follow the established norms but invent and improvise in liturgical celebrations and encounters of prayer, thereby demonstrating an unacceptable liturgical creativity which knows no bounds.

Finally, another situation comes from some traditionalist groups who over-emphasise certain liturgical forms and make them the criterion for orthodoxy. Consideration needs to be given to such a mentality, its consequences and effects in the community.

Undoubtedly, these different and oftentimes opposing realities in understanding and celebrating liturgy lead frequently to polarisation. In this way, various aspects related to the matter come together to create a picture of the Church which gives the impression that there are two diverse ways of perceiving and living the Church, parallel to each other, when in reality, they are diametrically opposed to each other.

In some places, two problems seem evident: the first, internal to the Church and the second, coming from culture. In the first case, a certain fatigue, repetition, boredom and a routine style in some liturgical celebrations is causing passiveness; in the second case, the culture of modernity is leading to removing the liturgical rites from their foundation in the faith.

70. In this regard, an adequate formation is advisable which can serve as an introduction to a proper celebration of the liturgy. Included in such a program in the new evangelisation's proclamation and catechesis should be a more intense treatment of the "mistagogical aspects of liturgy". To achieve this, the following would seem helpful: to structure courses in the faith which always link catechesis, liturgy and charity as well as explain the relationship among them; to oversee specific education in liturgy for future priests and various pastoral workers, particularly animators of the liturgy and those who exercise some service during its celebration; to consider the Eucharistic celebration as "the source and summit" of all liturgical action, without neglecting the communal celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours; to promote a correct integration of liturgical life and popular piety; and to adapt rites to various new situations in life where the faithful find themselves. All this needs to be done fully aware that when the liturgy is celebrated in spirit and in truth as an action in which the assembly actively participates and when texts and actions have the capacity to truly involve all participants, the liturgy will indeed be lived as an experience of mystery, because participation in the Easter event is the origin and expression of an authentic spiritual life.

Some responses also mention the beneficial effects of a virtuous exchange between oriental tradition in which greater emphasis and value is given to the aspect of mystery in liturgical celebrations and that of the Latin- West which gives more attention to the aspects of communion and mission.


SERVING "THE GOSPEL OF HOPE"
DIAKONIA

 

71. The one and only path to follow in truly serving "The Gospel of Hope" is the one which the Church has always followed–a love which bears witness to charity, builds up communion within the Church and beyond, brings about renewal and rededication to various concerns and pastoral priorities and causes a commitment to build up a new Europe. In one word, the Church must be the love inside the history of Europe.

The Witness of Charity

72. To allow people to encounter the love of God and Christ in the Holy Spirit is the essence of the witness of charity. Through this witness hope can be restored to those who see it threatened or have lost it, because only when a person knows and senses that he is loved, is he able to live his life with meaning and continue to have hope, even amidst difficulty and hardship.

To accomplish this, a truly lived testimony of charity is indispensable.

Such testimony implies that the particular Churches in Europe not content themselves simply with "doing" charitable deeds, no matter how important and necessary. They must also "be charity", drawing that gift and power from its inexhaustible source in God who is Love. In this way, the witness of charity will not be reduced to a pragmatism without roots but will speak and announce the charity of God, indeed, a God who is charity. What matters is communicating to all people in Europe today, to every man and woman of all time, the news which leads to holiness, that is, that God has loved us first and that Jesus has loved us to the end, going to the cross and revealing to us the face of the Father; Jesus who makes God one with humanity and meets each man and woman to communicate the Holy Spirit.

The Synod wishes, therefore, to make the Church and every Christian more aware of the certainty that the Father's charity, directed in Christ towards humanity, is communicated through the outpouring of the Spirit. Having entered history once and for all in Jesus Christ and continuing to be present with the gift of the Spirit, the Father's charity can be accepted and known fully only in a lived experience of charity, particularly in a love which is mutually exchanged. Such a love results through a credible sign–even if imperfect–of an existential and experiential love, a sign which leads men and women to encounter the love of God and Christ, who is in search for them. This is the challenge set before the Churches, if they still desire to be the bearers of hope.

The Churches, then, must do everything possible to ensure thatindividuals, families and communities who know how to live intensely the Gospel of charity, be found in the daily life and history of the countries of Europe.

This requires that persons and communities live in continual dialogue with the Divine Persons of the Trinity, Such a dialogue begins with listening to the Word, prayer and the sacraments and is prolonged in the dialogue with others in every relationship, activity and setting. All Christ's Faithful must allow themselves to be fashioned by the power and wisdom of charity and accept every person and event as a gift and an occasion to do good. They themselves must become a gift to others in care, in service, in sharing, in moral and civic responsibility and in pardoning wrongs received. In this way, their witness of charity will be recognised as an effective remedy for the sickness of the times and they themselves will know how to open still wider the hearts of others to joy and hope.

Builders of Communion and Solidarity

73. Undoubtedly, the first way to live the witness of charity is to be builders of communion in the Christian community. As mentioned above, this is one of the basic ways of enabling the particular Churches to be bearers of hope for the Europe today.(87)

The witness of charity also extends beyond the confines of the ecclesial community. The mutual love which builds up the Church as a fraternal and missionary communion becomes a factor of solidarity in every part of society. To be builders of communion also means to promote the construction of a unified society, ordered according to the principle of subsidiarity. In this way, the Church is called to be the primary element of stability and communion even in society. On the basis of the profound theological "mystery of communion", the Church's communion has its centre in the Eucharist, the primary place of encounter with Christ and his people. This encounter around the table of the Lord gives rise to fellowship, the characteristic feature of the Christian community which extends its beneficial influence to civil society. From this prospective and according to this logic, the values of solidarity, reconciliation, forgiveness and dedication to "the least"as well as Gospel selflessness in service to humanity, finding expression also through the presence and action of volunteers–values which belong to the essence of the Christian experience–do not remain the exclusive patrimony of believers but become a resource for all of society. Undoubtedly, what matters is to reconsider these convictions and ascertain how to fulfill them.

74. The world places an emphasis on the values of freedom and equality to the point of forgetting fraternity. Given this situation, solidarity must be integrated into the culture of freedom and equality; not a solidarity understood simply as assistance but one which seeks to value each person in society.

The increased number of persons in society due to migration requires a proper response in forms of solidarity in society. With the growth of globalisation, the claim by groups and minorities to the right of citizenship and full acknowledgment of their identity and diversity, calls for recognition and needs to be taught within a context of values and common norms. This must be done without forgetting–once again in the context of globalisation –Europe's responsibility and that of its local Churches towards people in most need and the consequent examination of conscience about the relations between the richer particular Churches and the poorer ones, not only in Europe but in the rest of the world. With the grave inadequacies of the free market and the inefficiency and high costs of State bureaucracy and assistance programs, the economy and society in general are increasingly being recognised as a ways of uniting responsibility and solidarity.

All agree on the urgent necessity of overcoming every form of a privatised code of action–widely witnessed on the continent–which cannot serve as an adequate foundation for living together because the loss of values make the construction of a united society difficult. Instead, solidarity, understood as valuing every person in society, can essentially serve as a different, more fruitful approach in resolving social tensions in European society and in all societies of the world. In this work, Europe can provide an important message of peaceably living together. Such a plan, after the Christian model, is becoming more diffuse in Europe. What is needed in Europe is a unity which values pluralism, not only the pluralism of States but also the cultural and religious pluralism of peoples and families. Political life must guarantee a home to all these realities. In the general picture of shared values and common norms, variety ought to come from both human richness and economic prosperity.

In this matter, all Christians can and ought to contribute greatly. In fact, Christianity, with its faith in God as the Father of all, has inserted in present-day history the awareness of the dignity of each person and the concept of fellowship. Christians, living and witnessing to mutual love in the Church and building and promoting solidarity in civil society, manifest the presence of Christ the Saviour of every person and every aspect of the person, who alone is the source of a hope which does not disappoint.

Towards the Promotion of Some Initiatives and Pastoral Priorities

75. Living the witness of charity so as to serve "The Gospel of Hope" in present-day Europe which is undergoing new and old problems and is marked by hopes and unrealised opportunity, means to give attention to a pastoral activity animated and vivified by a profound missionary dynamic, understood as not only the courageous announcement of the Gospel, but also the willingness and readiness to venture forth from familiar Church settings. To be a Christian missionary is to have "a sense of oneness" with all humanity, to listen to people's questioning, to share in their sufferings and to proclaim Christ's message of peace and liberation. This manner of being a missionary calls for, today more than ever, inventing new forms of encounter with men and women so as to ensure the missionary presence of the Church and Christians in the midst of youth, people in the fields of culture, workers, the suffering and those who are searching. Missionary action ought to be translated, therefore, into a presence in the world which has a logic different from that of the world, without, however, becoming incomprehensible to the people of our times. The particular Churches can echo these concerns in the Synod by asking decisive questions on how the Church can continue to be a sign in Europe of a God who continues to search for the sheep and how she can also show a readiness to abandon an attitude of holding on to the past–which can disappoint the Church into thinking that European countries are still Christian–and be firmly determined to take into account the great hope which is in her midst.

Likewise, the fundamental requirements of the faith need to be proposed, namely, that the rights of God are the rights of the person and the rights of person are the rights of God. This implies acknowledging the centrality in pastoral activity of the defence of the person, above all the most weak and poor, with the idea of not merely offering material assistance but promoting the person and his growth. This is still another sign of hope which Christians, as leaven in society, can bring to Europe to enable it again to make central the person with his problems and aspirations.

The particular Churches show substantial agreement in pointing to the following concerns and priorities which will ensure a more fruitful witness of charity: the need of living individual, family and social life in a manner consistent with the faith; the defence of the person and human life, done in the public forum and through various initiatives of solidarity, with particular attention to the growing groups of persons in need, increasingly exposed to material and moral trials and abuse; the promotion of a proper pastoral and social concern in the complex world of health and its related problems; care and assistance for the most needy; defence of the weak; creation of a climate of respect and welcome towards immigrants so as to set in motion a positive process of cultural integration and fruitful interreligious dialogue; and offering hope in areas strongly affected by mistrust.

These are areas where the Church can be present and where pastoral initiatives seem to require a more detailed attention in the local Churches today so that "The Gospel of Hope" can be more adequately and realistically served.

76. Many highlight the basic importance of an adequate working pastoral program for the family, not only for families but also done by families. Such a program is urgently needed in the particular Churches, since many cultural, social and political factors are causing a crisis for the family which is increasingly more evident.

This crisis in marriage and the family compels the local Churches in Europe "...to proclaim with pastoral firmness, as an authentic service to the family and to society, the truth about marriage and the family as God has established it. To neglect to do so would be a grave pastoral omission that would lead believers into error as well as those who have the important responsibility of making decisions for the common good of the nation. This truth is valid not only for Catholics but for all men and women without distinction, since marriage and the family are an irreplaceable good of society, which cannot remain indifferent to their degradation or disappearance.(88)

It can be said with certainty that in the last analysis serving the family is an authentic service of the person and the entire society. Therefore, attention needs to be given in pastoral work to appropriate education, preparation, guidance and support; programs need to be adopted which will promote proper and genuine family life and relationships as well as allow families themselves to become leading figures in these programs, so that they can assume the responsibility of transforming society.

77. On the subject of human life, many responses have stated that sometimes a deeply contradictory situation can be found in culture. On the one hand, a culture affirms the dignity of human life and, on the other, accepts or even fosters attitudes which threaten or deny life itself. On the problem of abortion, in particular, a clear difference is noted between countries with many abortions and those with fewer in number.

Such a situation makes all the more urgent and necessary multifaceted and all-encompassing cultural, pastoral and social programs serving human life and promoting a culture of life. In this regard, the measures and initiatives planned and those partly realised are significant, for example: establishing organised structures (houses for single mothers; houses for the sick and elderly; centres of assistance and counsel); promoting associations and movements on behalf of human life; fostering volunteer programs; emphasising the necessity of a major commitment to educating and preaching on the teachings of the Church and to counteracting the negative effects of the means of social communications; and highlighting the importance of finding ways to have greater influence on behalf of human life–through the direct activity of Christians–in the cultural, economic and political spheres.

78. "Young people are the hope of the Church as she enters the third millennium. They cannot be left without help or guidance at the crossroads of life and when faced with difficult choices. A great effort is necessary to make the Church present among youth.(89) These words of the Holy Father indicate with precision and clarity another pastoral priority for the Churches in Europe today. The Church's task is to renew and revitalise pastoral work with the young, giving it an organic quality and consistency, in a general program which knows how to accentuate the geniality of youth, to purify and meet their aspirations and to make them leading figures in evangelisation and the building of society.

Meetings in which many young people participate–World Youth Days, youth gatherings promoted by the community of Taizé, local and national youth assemblies and pilgrimages–demonstrate the thirst of young people for the absolute, their hidden faith which needs only to be purified and developed and their desire for social times to bring them out of isolation, all of which are but initial steps in their will to follow Christ.(90) The above positive elements need to be recognised, accepted, guided, supported and directed. Therefore, what is required is to feel oneself involved in offering to new generations the possibility of a personal encounter with Christ, in an atmosphere of fellowship, where each might be helped to develop a proper identity, to discover and follow one's proper vocation. To achieve this, it is necessary not only to form wise educators who are impassioned and indeed capable of meeting young people and indicating various paths, demands and stages of human and Christian development, but also to make the ecclesial community a truly welcoming place for them. Youth ought to be able to see these people, especially adults, as witnesses and persons with whom they can talk. Youth also ought to recognise that they are active agents and leading characters in their own formation and missionary activity.

79. Given the growing relevance today of the instruments of social communication, the particular Churches in Europe, if they wish to restore hope in evangelising and promoting culture, must pay particular attention to the multi-faceted complex world of the mass media.

Such a task requires, first of all, taking part in the various aspects of social communication to render it more authentic, respectful of the truth in communicating information and mindful of the dignity of the human person. Simply to own and manage such means–even the most advanced ones–is not enough. Instead, what is needed is to accept the cultural challenge and be a part of the new horizon of communication among its leaders. The so-called "media culture" demands that the Church re-think and re-express her faith, her message and her life.

This situation seems to call the community of believers to give major attention to structures on the continental level so as to respond in a coherent way to the demands of today's world. Extemporaneous and adventuresome initiatives are insufficient. What is urgently needed is to formulate an organic and adequate program of activity to meet the situation at hand. Therefore, a needed importance seems to call for holding to more precise planning involving the local Churches in Europe, so as to know, in the dialogue with the culture created by the media, how to treat a program of evangelisation and service to humanity which take into account new language and new technologies.

80. At this present time which is in need of profound changes in culture–even before change in the economic, social and political order–it seems important to accentuate a renewed pastoral program, if hope is to be restored to Europe.

In teaching in schools as well as in the promotion and development of intellectual and academic life, the aim must be to gather the presently scattered elements of European culture into a virtual synthesis which is orientated towards a truly human education, that is, open to the values of the spirit and respectful of the dignity of the person.

This is to be done in keeping with the European cultural tradition which has its roots in the work of the Church's evangelisation and Christ's encounter with the masses of men and women of every class and culture. The basic values which Europe has formed and transmitted to humanity are indeed tangible signs of a commitment to the inculturation of the faith, an inculturation which has known how to join presence and witness so as to contribute to the development of the entire human race. Christ's encounter with Greeks, Latins, Barbarians and Slavs has resulted in an "identity and way of thinking uniquely European and Christian" which stands as one of the most significant models of the inculturation of the faith and one of the richest blendings of faith and reason and adherence to Christ and belonging to a people and a tradition.

The challenge to be faced by Europe, taking advantage of the significance of its identity and its uniqueness in the human race, remains in the ability of its Christians to return to the roots of their faith in the risen Lord so as to re-discover a new season of inculturation capable of approaching the problems which Europe is presently encountering.

81. The problem of the number and quality of vocations, taken in the context of a generally accepted anthropology which excludes the idea of a person having a "vocation" in life, an anthropology prevalent in a worrying manner in almost every particular Church in Europe, points to the unmistakeably urgent importance of an adequate care for vocations. This is an essential aspect of the Church's exercise of her comprehensive pastoral activity. The care of vocations is a vital topic in looking to the future of the Christian faith on the continent and in the spiritual progress of the peoples of Europe. Therefore, the Church is bound to considering this subject, if she intends to restore hope to Europe today.

In this regard, the Church is fully aware that the Spirit is still at work calling people today and that the signs of his presence are not lacking. The primary concern then is to incorporate vocation work into ordinary pastoral work, to involve as many persons as possible and to approach the task with single-mindedness and in an unceasing manner. The Holy Father emphasises that it is necessary "to rekindle a deep yearning for God, especially among young people, thus creating a suitable context in which generous vocational responses can be made." It is urgent "that a great prayer movement should spread through the ecclesial communities of the European continent, opposing the winds of secularism that spur people to give priority to human means, efficiency and a pragmatic life-style. A qualitative leap" is needed "in the pastoral care of vocations in the European Churches," since "historical and cultural conditions demand that the pastoral care of vocations be perceived as one of the primary objectives of the entire Christian community;"it is a question of promoting "a new vocational culture in your people and families.(91)

In this regard, support and encouragement should be given to the many people who are already engaged in the ordained ministry and the consecrated life. In light of decreasing numbers of vocations evident in various parts of Europe and the consequent increase in a pastoral workload which can lead to fatigue, the Church ought to encourage others to offer them an encouraging word to assist them in recognising the valuable character of their service, in re-thinking the manner in which they exercise their apostolate and the places where it is done, and in finding again and manifesting the joy of an existence completely given to the Lord as a concrete way of bearing witness to the meaning of their vocation, which is in itself a stimulating engaging invitation to others to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.

82. Many have also given major importance to the formation of a Christian laity charged in various areas of responsibility. Social situations in Europe today as well as those in morality, culture and spirituality strongly indicate the necessity of such formation. Formation is required for the following reasons: the constant flow and depletion of energies in living everyday life; the stress of the race to achieve success; consumerism; a particularly obvious widespread eroticism; and the uncertainty and skepticism pervading great parts of culture and also secretly penetrating the search for spirituality and religion, which has experienced a re-awakening in recent years in forms needing attentive discernment.

This formation requires a common spirituality as a starting point for a Christian presence in Europe which knows how to propose again in new terms the Christian personalism constituting one of the most beautiful cultural heritages of Europe's history. Deeply integrated and developed in a sound formation in ecclesial life, such an education ought to aim at making lay people re-discover daily life as the privileged place for witnessing to and proclaiming faith in the Risen Christ. It should also help lay people become aware that the proper place for their evangelising activities is the world in its concreteness and complexity, and lead them to be always more active and responsible agents in history, a work to be done in view of the Gospel. Strengthened by this formation, "Christians will be more concerned to manifest and defend authentic Gospel values in all areas of their existence, especially in political, economic and social life where they are the principal heralds of the Gospel. This is all the more important during these years at the end of the century in which we are moving towards a new organisation of Europe, where new bonds are being forged between the states forming it, but also with those of other continents, an organisation which requires one to promote the moral dimension of human relations.(92)

In light of this situation, prompting and sustaining individual vocations to serve the common good seems particularly urgent and necessary: persons who, after the example and manner of many so-called "Fathers of Europe", might know how to be builders of tomorrow's European society, establishing it on a firm spiritual foundation.

The Task of Building the New Europe

83. As already noted at the First Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops, "the process of unification in Europe and in particular the European Institutions as well as the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe point to a great responsibility for the Churches. For the common house of Europe will be built on strong foundations, if it is based on more than merely economic considerations. Rather, the new Europe always presupposes consensus and a recognition of basic values in its construction and requires a fraternal exchange of ideas. From this point of view, the Church's contribution to a new Europe is certainly not something secondary, and it must accompany the efforts of those lay faithful who are active in society and politics.(93)

The Synod wishes to propose this opinion again today at a moment when developments in Europe are raising new questions and offering the possibility of taking account of the Church's presence on the continent. For now, the unification of Europe is following primarily an economic track, where the political element lies stretched across the tracks of monetary rules and the social and cultural elements have an uncertain fate. The role of the Churches in this matter is still not clear, but there is a major risk that they will be reduced to a minor player in the social system. The situation would be further aggravated if, beyond the Church's marginal position, a sociological interpretation of the role of believers in the new European situation would take priority.

In this context, the historic responsibility arises that all Christians exercise major vigilance and commitment.

The presence and activity of Christians–men and women–appears a determining factor. They must know how to place respect for each person and the different human communities into Europe's life and the forces working towards its unification, recognising the spiritual, cultural and social aspects of these elements so as to give hope to the many who have lost it and to favour the integration into society of the many who live on the continent and settle there.(94)

84. Among the Church's contributions in the construction of Europe, a place must certainly be given to the social doctrine of the Church. The social teaching developed in this last century has reached its completion in the teaching of Pope John Paul II who in Centesimus annus has chosen to give universal application to the particular events which took place in Europe in 1989. This is one of the principal ways to arrive at the task awaiting the local Churches in the construction of a united Europe.

Indeed, the particular Churches must serve the dignity of the person in Europe, today and tomorrow, through the defence and promotion of the individual, allowing themselves to be directed and guided by the social doctrine of the Church. Taking into consideration today's problems on the continent, the Church continues to question herself and update those teachings. In this regard, the following can serve as examples: the question and meaning of work in the context of globalisation; the phenomenon of immigration, pointing out not only its risks but also its potential; the relations among states and nations as well as the ways of "conducting political life" in a rising climate of absolute national sovereignty; the responsibility of the poorer countries of the world and the grave problem of the international debt; peace initiatives to be constructed on truth, justice and solidarity with the certainty that, faced with continuing tragedies and wars for its peoples and nations, Europe cannot remain on the sidelines, inactive, divided or slow to act, but must show its capacity for action so as to ensure for all peoples on the continent–and also beyond it–the conditions favouring free development and a genuine democracy.

85. Guided by her social doctrine, the particular Churches are asked in a special way to affront the problem connected with rising forms of nationalism in Europe. Sometimes they arise from an unacceptable over- evaluation of belonging to a certain nation or from an extreme national esteem, in each case making these sentiments absolute. Taking and developing what has already been said in the preceding Synod and refusing to superimpose "religious identity" on "national identity", Europe needs to adopt an attitude which can open the people of the continent to a new, more welcoming and unifying manner of living together which a proper understanding of the "catholicity" of the Church cannot help but establish and foster.

In this regard, the Synod can offer a strong impetus to give new thought to the concept of a nation, in the firm belief that, on the one hand, national differences need to be maintained and cultivated as the foundation of European solidarity, and, on the other, that national identity is not realised unless it is open to other peoples through solidarity with them. Nations, therefore, urgently need to be inspired and guided by the concept of "the family of nations" which must direct–even more than simply a law–the relations among peoples.(95) In this situation, religions, the Catholic Church first among them, far from supporting incorrect nationalistic tendencies in which she is sometimes implicated, can exercise a determining role precisely on the basis of the fundamental recognition of the primacy of God and the bonds of universal fellowship.

In addressing the subject, what matters is the following: properly to distinguish between nationalism and patriotism; to discern between positive and negative aspects of national feeling; to recognise and defend the rights of minorities against the trend towards uniformity; to respect and promote the right of every nation to preserve its national sovereignty; to seek formulae which, overcoming the immediate identification of the "State" with the "nation", allow different peoples to live together in a single political- entity with the rights and dignity of each person being amply safeguarded.

This necessary and urgent re-thinking will come about by using the "national culture" as the vantage point. The "national culture" would be the place in which the fundamental sovereignty of society is manifested. At the same time, it would sustain and interpret the concept and reality of a nation along the vital struggle between universality and particularity in the human condition, a tension which is unavoidable, but one which is particularly fruitful if a balance is achieved.

It is evident that this requires the intelligence and far-sightedness of a suitable legal formulation. However, all Christians can likewise contribute in a significant way to its outcome.

Distinguishing particularity and universality in a positive perspective, one which recognises the riches of individuality and the necessity of the unified whole, is indeed a sign of hope which the Church in keeping with her nature can give to Europe. She can assist and help increase the development of the moral, national and special features of societies and inculturate faith in Christ in new contexts through the commitment of believers in various areas of life, while, at the same time, favouring the rise of a trans-national society, marked by the catholicity of the Christian faith.

To be promoters of hope in Europe, where one nation positions itself against another or, generally speaking, in light of the historic experience of Fascism, Nazism and Communism with the evils they produced and their weighty effects on the human spirit, culture and life, attention must be given to forgiveness and reconciliation. In this regard, the Synod could speak an authoritative word and make a compelling invitation, firmly believing that "to forgive and be reconciled means to purify one's memory of hatred, rancour, and the desire for revenge; it means acknowledging as a brother even those who have wronged us; it means not being overcome by evil but overcoming evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21).(96)

86. It is important to bear in mind that the contribution the Christian Churches and ecclesial communities can make in building unity in a new spiritual Europe is also accomplished through the daily life of these bodies themselves. The situation requires, for example, a continuation of a real and fruitful "exchange of gifts" among all Churches and ecclesial communities of the continent as well as the contributing to the following: overcoming the distance between East and West; appreciating the presence and activity of the consecrated life; valuing the witness of communion made by the Churches and ecclesial communities; fostering moments of encounter and exchange among the laity, perhaps in some special gesture which can amply involve them; giving attention to those forms of an "ecumenism of the people" which has already provided significant experiences in the assemblies of Basil and Graz.

In this regard, a special role can and ought to be exercised by structures and continental organs of ecclesial communion, beginning with the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe, called to "provide for the promotion of an ever more intense communion among dioceses and the national episcopal conferences, for the growth in ecumenical cooperation among Christians and the surmounting of the obstacles which threaten the future of peace and the progress of peoples, for the strengthening of affective and effective collegiality and of hierarchical communion.(97) Inspiring a proper activity of communion and solidarity, this same Council can foster the study and realisation of a more unified and shared pastoral plan among all Churches of the continent and, also thanks to its action, "the Church will seek to give the continental community that ?added soul', thereby strengthening what could be called ?the soul of Europe'.(98) Not to be forgotten is the importance of strengthening and more closely aligning the activity of this Council and that of theCommission of the Episcopates of the European Community, considered the necessary presence of the Church in European civil institutions.(99)

87. If–as it should be–the new Europe to be built is a Europe open to universal solidarity, all Churches and ecclesial communities in Europe can and ought to offer their contribution in both forming a true universal "culture of solidarity" and bringing a renewed strength and vigour to the mission ad gentes. At the same time, they can assist in widening horizons and starting extensive contacts with the Churches of other continents. Indeed, the Church needs to highlight "the close solidarity between Europe and the countries of Africa, Asia and America, in whose regard the countries of the European continent and its Churches deserve some credit, but also have some debts to resolve. Growth in this awareness and helping to develop the firm conviction that all are responsible for one another, especially for the poor and the least fortunate...(100)–in addition to the continual eagerness of Christians and the Churches to live the witness of charity–will be an additional way for serving "The Gospel of Hope".


CONCLUSION

 

The Remembrance of the Martyrs

88. The supreme enfleshment of "The Gospel of Hope" is martyrdom. Firmly believing that they cannot live without Christ, martyrs are prepared to give their life for him. They do this in the conviction that Jesus is the Lord and Saviour of humanity and that only in him is the person to find fullness of life. In this way, martyrs proclaim "The Gospel of Hope" and bear witness to it with their lives to the point of shedding their blood. According to the exhortation of the Apostle Peter, their example shows them ready to give reason for the hope that is in them (cf. 1 Pt 3:15). Furthermore, martyrs celebrate "The Gospel of Hope", because the offering of their lives is the greatest manifestation of the living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which constitutes true spiritual worship (cf. Rm 12:1), and the source, soul and summit of every Christian celebration. Finally, martyrs serve "The Gospel of Hope", because they express in their martyrdom a love and service of humanity to a high degree in so far as they demonstrate that obedience to the law of the Gospel begets a moral and societal life which honours and promotes the dignity and freedom of every person.

Inspired by this certainty, the Synod will be equipped to offer a great sign of hope to Europe today by recalling the "great experience of martyrdom in which Orthodox and Catholics in the Eastern European countries have shared during this century.(101) This special group of twentieth century martyrs, perhaps the most numerous since the first centuries of Christianity,(102) shines out as a sign of hope, because for the present and future this illustrious group speaks of the vitality of the Church, who is born in the reaping of this Gospel harvest. According to Tertullian, "the blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians.(103) These true twentieth century martyrs "are a light for the Church and for humanity: ?Christians in Europe and throughout the world, pausing in prayer before the concentration camps and prisons, should be grateful for the light which they gave: it was the light of Christ, which they caused to shine in darkness' (Apostolic Letter for the Fourth Centenary of the Union of Brest, 12 November 1995, 4)(104) Because these new martyrs belong to different Christian confessions, they also shine out as the sign of hope on the path of ecumenism, in the certainty that their blood is also the sap of the Church's unity. If, indeed, at the end of the second millennium "the Church has once again become a Church of martyrs (Tertio millennio adveniente, 37), we can hope that their witness, carefully gathered in the new martyrologies, and especially their intercession, may hasten the time of full communion between Christians of all denominations(105)

The Presence of Mary, Mother of Hope

89. The Church can offer another sign of hope to Europe: the presence of Mary, Mother of Hope, a true living presence in which the Christian peoples of Europe have always believed, as witnessed in the countless shrines dedicated to her in every part of the continent, eloquent signs of a profound veneration towards her in every nation and country.

The Most Holy Virgin, "a woman of hope who, like Abraham accepted God's will ?hoping against hope' (cf. Rom 4:18),(106) has oftentimes shown herself as a mother capable of restoring hope in the difficult moments of the history of the continent. Through her enduring protection she has shielded Europe from irreparable misfortune and destruction; she has favoured progress and modern social achievements; and she has sustained the rebirth of peoples who were oppressed and a long-time humiliated.(107) Today as in the past, she walks with men and women of every age and condition; she walks with people towards the goal of solidarity and love; she walks with young people, the leading characters in the future days of peace; she walks with many persons of the West and East who are in search of their true identity; and she walks with those who are still threatened by many violent conflicts.

To restore hope to Europe, therefore, the Churches must look to her and call upon her to continue to show herself as Mother of Hope and lead the entire European continent through the paths of mercy to a revitalising encounter with "Jesus Christ, our Hope" (1 Tim1:1). Indeed, Mary teaches people how to be open to the promptings of the Divine, how to welcome the Word of God and how to put it into action. On Pentecost she oversaw in prayer the beginning of evangelisation through the action of the Holy Spirit. In the same manner, today, on the vigil of the Third Millennium, the prayer is that Mary continue to be the "Star of Evangelisation" and that she protect and sustain the Church in her task to announce, celebrate and serve "The Gospel of Hope.(108)

From the Synod to the Jubilee

90. Guided and protected by this host of martyrs and the sure maternal presence of Mary, the Churches in Europe will be well oriented towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. The Synod–the last in the series of synods with a continental character celebrated in this preparatory period for the Jubilee–presents itself as a door leading to the Jubilee.

Precisely because it joins the other special Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops–which have raised questions on the mission of the Church today in Africa, America, Asia, and Oceania, putting in relief the historic, cultural and religious moment proper to each of these parts of the world–it can be a fitting occasion to remember the bond which unites Europe to the other continents in virtue of the Gospel and its proclamation. It can also serve to rediscover the originality of the European experience and its culture by unifying the rich diversity of elements which have come together to form it, and to assume the responsibility which Europe and its local Churches have in relation to the world.

The Synod can also be a moment for gathering, in the context of an exchange of gifts, what the Church in other continents has to say to the Church in Europe and to grow together, as a sign of universal communion and service to humanity, towards recognising Christ, encountering him and proclaiming him.

91. Precisely because the Synod is celebrated on the threshold of the Jubilee, it can and must be seen in strict relation to this extraordinary event of the universal Church. In this sense, the Jubilee, with its multi-faceted content, provides a beneficial light to interpret the Synod and its work. The Synod, for its part, offers to the local Churches in Europe impetus and concrete indications on how to live fully the gift of the Holy Year.

The Jubilee and the Synod, therefore, are intimately linked together. The Jubilee's call is the stimulus for the Synod's work and, even more basically, "the icon" of Europe today and its need for renewal.

From its beginning (cf. Lev 25) the Jubilee was a time dedicated in a particular way to God, an occasion to rediscover and recognise the true face of God and to return to him.(109) Accomplishing this provides the possibility of a new life in justice for all people. This is the expected task of Europe today: it ought to return to God and on him lay the firm foundation of its house. Only in this way will Europe be able to regain its hope and see flower a new era of freedom, unity and peace. The Church in Synod, professing and announcing again faith in Jesus Christ who is the perfect revelation of the face of God, offers her unique contribution in opening a new era for the European continent.

Recognising the true face of God brought with it the task of restoring justice.(110) If persons truly recognise that the God of the bible, revealed in Jesus, is a God who is on the side of those who seek justice and are in need, who leads the people out from Egypt and who is the Lord of the land, they must occupy themselves with bringing justice about. This is the challenge awaiting Europe today. Europe is called to build within her borders a society which overcomes barriers, conflicts, divisions and generates unity, acceptance, solidarity, peace. Europe is called to respond in concrete decisive ways to the cry of suffering which comes from many in the world living in injustice, war and misery. The Church in Synod has a part in building this kind of Europe by indicating ways of serving "The Gospel of Hope" in the witness of charity and the promotion of solidarity.

The conclusion of the Second Millennium is a compelling reason for everyone to make an examination of conscience. The Church, in approaching the Jubilee and caught up in its spirit, cannot cross the threshold of a new millennium without encouraging her sons and daughters to purify themselves through repentance from the errors, instances of infidelity, inconsistency and slowness to act.(111) As events of this century and of centuries past require from Europe the courage and farsightedness to make a serious examination of conscience in recognition of faults and errors committed in its history and in the economic and political fields,(112) so also the spiritual, cultural and social climate in Europe today requires its peoples to question themselves on the profound causes of those events and to recognise that they have often abandoned that inspiration and those roots which have sustained and given meaning to Europe's history. The Church in Synod intends to foster and urge this examination of conscience, treating, in the context of anthropology, morals and the faith, the basic reasons for the present state of affairs on the continent, reasons which need to regain inspiration, direction and meaning.

The Jubilee "is meant to be a great prayer of praise and thanksgiving, especially for the gift of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of Redemption which he accomplished.(113) and also for the living salvific presence of Christ in the Church and the world. Recognising and celebrating the presence of the Risen Christ will by necessity be a year intensely Eucharistic.(114) Europe is also called to give thanks for its history of 2000 years, marked and vitalised by the encounter with the Gospel, and for the present time in which she lives, a time charged with grace and responsibility. From this perspective, the Church in Synod, in favouring and urging a renewed encounter with Christ, assists her members and all Europeans to regain and renew–as happened to the disciples at Emmaus, after they had recognised him in the breaking of bread (cf. Lk 24:30-31)–the joy which comes from the task of walking with responsibility the roads of the world, spreading the word to others and sharing the same joy.

As a result of this and all that the Synod will come to know about sowing the seed in the life of the particular Churches and in the entire continent, hope will flower and European women and men, impassioned in constructing a new Europe, will possess joy.

The Church needs an acute vision to read the signs of this hope already present and to know how to recognise and value them. So does Europe. The Jubilee therefore will also be for Europe a source of joy and an invitation to rejoice.


ENDNOTES

(1)" JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Council for Culture (12 January 1990), 1-2; L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 5 February 1990, p. 5.

(2)" JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to member of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See in audience for New Year Wishes (13 January 1990), 9; L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 29 January 1990, p. 2.

(3)" FIRST SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR EUROPE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Final Declaration, 3.

(4)" JOHN PAUL II, Homily in Saint Adelbert Square, Gniezno. Poland (3 June 1997), 4; L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 11 June 1997, p. 4.

(5)" Ibid.

(6)" Ibid., 5; L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 11 June 1997, p. 4.

(7) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994) 38: AAS 87 (1995) 30.

(8) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Angelus Talk in Berlin, Germany (23 June 1996), 2; L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 26 June 1996, p. 3.

(9)" SAINT AUGUSTINE, Sermo CCXXV, 2-3: PL 38, 1118.

(10) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 4, 11.

(11) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Regina Coeli Talk at Velehrad (22 April 1990), 2; L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 23 April 1990, p. 1.

(12) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Discourse at the Consultatory Meeting of the Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops (5 June 1990), 9; L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 11 June 1990, p. 7.

(13)" John Paul II, Discourse to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of the Netherlands on their ad limina visit (11 January 1993), 2; L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 27 January 1993, p. 3.

(14)" FIRST SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR EUROPE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Final Declaration, 1.

(15)JOHN PAUL II, Address to the World Meeting of Movements and New Communities (30 May 1998), 6: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 3 June 1998, p. 2.

(16)" Ibid.

(17) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the Pre-Synodal Symposium on "Christianity and Culture in Europe: Memory, Conscience and Plans" (31 October 1991), 1: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 12 November 1991, pp. 3,6; Discourse during the Ceremony of Receiving the Credentials of the New Ambassador of Great Britain to the Holy See, Mr. Andrew Eustace Palmer (26 September 1991), L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 7 October 1991, pp. 3-4; Letter to the Bishops of Europe in view of the Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops (9 October 1991), L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 21 October 1991, p. 1; Christmas Message Urbi et Orbi (25 December 1991), L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 8 January 1992, p. 7.

(18) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the Plenary Council of the Pontifical Council for Culture (12 January 1990), 2: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 5 February 1990, p. 5.

(19) FIRST SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR EUROPE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Final Declaration, 1.

(20)" Ibid.

(21) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the Plenary Council of the Pontifical Council for Culture (12 January 1990), 2: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 5 February 1990, p. 5.

(22)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the German Bishops during their ad limina visit (4 December 1992), 3: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 23/30 December 1992, p. 5.

(23)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the European Parliament (11 October 1988), Strasbourg, France, 7-8: L'Osservatore Romano: Italian Daily, 12 October 1988, p. 6.

(24)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to Representatives of the World of Science and Culture (19 May 1996), Maribor, Slovenia, 3: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 5 June 1996, p. 8.

(25)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Participants in the Pre-Synodal Symposium organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture (14 January 1999), 3: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 27 January 1999, p. 8.

(26)" JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the Third Meeting of the Church in Italy in Palermo (23 November 1995), 2: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 20/27 December 1995, p. 12.

(27) THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, 638.

(28)" PAUL VI, Address at the opening of the Second Session of the Council (29 September 1963): AAS 55 (1963) 846.

(29)" FIRST SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR EUROPE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Final Declaration, 1.

(30)" Ibid., 2.

(31)" Ibid., 3.

(32)" Ibid.

(33)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Bishops of Austria during their ad limina visit (25 April 1992); L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 6 May 1992, p. 9.

(34)" JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994), 18: AAS 87 (1995) 16.

(35)" PAUL VI, Address at the Opening of the Second Session of the Council (29 September 1963): AAS 55 (1963) 846.

(36)" Ibid.

(37) PAUL VI, Weekly General Audience Talk (3 February 1963): Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, III (1965) 849.

(38)" PAUL VI, Homily during Mass at Quezon Circle (29 November 1970), Manila, The Philippines: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, VIII (1970) 1242.

(39)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the participants of the Pre-Synodal Symposium on Europe sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture (14 January 1999), 3: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 27 January 1999, p. 8.

(40)" JOHN PAUL II, Homily at the Mass for the Beatification of Rev. Rafal Chylinski (9 June 1991), Warsaw, Poland, 6: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 24 June 1991, p. 10.

(41) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio (7 December 1990): AAS 83 (1991) 249-340; PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE - CONGREGATION FOR THE EVANGELISATION OF PEOPLES, Instruction Dialogue and Proclamation: Reflections and Orientations on Interreligious Dialogue and the Proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (19 May 1991): L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 1 July 1991, pp. I-VIII.

(42)" JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994), 38: AAS 87 (1995) 30.

(43)" SAINT AUGUSTINE, Sermo CCXXXV, in diebus Paschalibus, VI, 2: PL 38, 1118.

(44)" THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, 788.

(45)" SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7.

(46)" PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Mysterium fidei (3 September 1965): AAS 57 (1965) 762-763; cf. also SACRED CONGREGATION FOR RITES, Instruction Eucharisticum mysterium (25 May 1967), 9: AAS 59 (1967) 547.

(47)" THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, 1373; cf. also 1374.

(48)" SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 50.

(49)" SAINT AMBROSE, Exameron, dies IV, Ser VI, c. 8, 32: CSEL 32 / I, 1 / 138.

(50)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (16 April 1993), 9: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 21 April 1993, p. 6.

(51)" THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, 776.

(52) Cf. ibid., 789.

(53)" Ibid., 795, 807.

(54)" JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici (30 December 1988), 32: AAS 81 (1989) 451-452.

(55)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to Members of the Central Committee of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 (5 June 1996), 5: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 19 June 1996, p. 3.

(56)" JOHN PAUL II, Address at "Europe Vespers" in Heroes' Square (10 September 1983), Vienna, Austria, 1: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 19 September 1983, p. 3.

(57) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Message on the Occasion of the 90th Catholic Day of Berlin, Germany (23 May 1990): L'Osservatore Romano: Daily Italian Edition, 25-26 May 1990, p. 5.

(58)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Bulgarian Bishops during their ad limina Visit (7 November 1998), 3: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 18 November 1998, p. 3.

(59) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Spanish Bishops during their ad limina Visit (7 July 1998), 8; L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 22 July 1998, p. 5.

(60)" JOHN PAUL II, Angelus Talk (14 February 1999), 1: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 17 February 1999, p. 1.

(61) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (16 April 1993), 1: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 21 April 1993, p. 6.

(62)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Polish Bishops during their ad limina Visit (12 January 1993), 2: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 3 February 1993, p. 5.

(63) Cf. ibid.

(64)" SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 1.

(65)" Ibid., 8.

(66)" JOHN PAUL II, Letter to the Bishops of Italy (6 January 1994), 8; L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 19 January 1994, pp. 5-6.

(67)" JOHN PAUL II, Address at the Third Meeting of the Church in Italy (23 November 1995), Palermo, Italy, 11: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 6 December 1995, p. 12.

(68)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the French Bishops during their ad limina Visit (18 January 1992), 5: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 5 February 1992, p. 5.

(69) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Address to the French Bishops during their ad limina Visit (25 January 1997), 5: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 5 February 1997, pp. 5, 8.

(70) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 10.

(71)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to Polish Bishops during their ad limina Visit (12 January 1993), 2: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 3 February 1993, p. 5.

(72) Cf. FIRST SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR EUROPE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Final Declaration, 2.

(73) Cf. ibid., 3.

(74)" PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 41: AAS 68 (1976) 31.

(75) Cf. FIRST SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR EUROPE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Final Declaration, 7.

(76) To mention a few: JOINT INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION FOR THE THEOLOGICAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE ORTHODOX CHURCH, Uniatism, Method of Union of the Past, and the Present Search for Full Communion (Balamand, 23 June 1993) in: Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Information Service, 83 (1993 / II) 96-99; ANGLICAN- ROMAN CATHOLIC INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION, Clarifications of Certain Aspects of the Agreed Statements on Eucharist and Ministry (September 1993) in: Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Information Service 87 (1994 / IV) 239- 242; LUTHERAN-CATHOLIC INTERNATIONAL DIALOGUE, Church and Justification: Understanding the Church in the Light of the Doctrine of Justification (11 September 1993) in: Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Information Service 86 (1994 / II-III) 128-181; PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN UNITY-WORLD LUTHERAN FEDERATION, The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (1997) in: Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Information Service 98 (1998 / III) 81-86.

(77)" FIRST ASSEMBLY OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS FOR EUROPE, Final Declaration, 8.

(78)" Ibid.

(79)" Ibid., 9.

(80)" Ibid.

(81) Cf. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE - CONGREGATION FOR THE EVANGELIZATION OF PEOPLES, Dialogue and Proclamation: Reflections and Orientations on Interreligious Dialogue and the Proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, 50: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 1 July 1991, p. IV.

(82)" FIRST SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR EUROPE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Final Declaration, 9.

(83)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to French Bishops during their ad limina Visit (18 January 1992), 4: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 5 February 1992, p. 5.

(84)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the IV General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate (12 October 1992), Santo Domingo, 12:L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 21 October 1992, p. 7.

(85)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to Spanish Bishops during their ad limina Visit (7 July 1998), 4: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 22 July 1998, p. 3.

(86)" Ibid.

(87) Cf. above paragraphs nn. 45-50.

(88)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to Spanish Bishops during their ad limina Visit (19 February 1998), 4: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 11 March 1998, p. 5.

(89)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Polish Bishops during their ad limina Visit (2 February 1998), 5: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 18 February 1998, p. 3.

(90) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Address to the French Bishops during their ad limina Visit (7 March 1992), 3: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 18 March 1992, p. 3.

(91)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to Participants in the Congress on "New Vocations for a New Europe" (9 May 1997): L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 28 May 1997, p. 5.

(92)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Belgian Bishops during their ad limina Visit (3 July 1992), 4: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 15 July 1992, p. 5.

(93)" FIRST SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR EUROPE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Final Declaration, 10.

(94) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Deputies of the European Popular Party on the Fortieth Anniversary of the Roman Tracts (7 March 1997): L'Osservatore Romano: Daily Edition in Italian, 8 March 1997, p. 5.

(95) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Address to the United Nations on the Fiftieth Anniversary of its Foundation (5 October 1995), 14: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 11 October 1995, p. 10; Address to President Jacque Chirac during an Official Visit to the Vatican (20 January 1996), 4: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 31 January 1996, p. 7.

(96)" JOHN PAUL II, Homily at the Beatification of Card. Alojzije Stepinac (3 October 1998), 5: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 7 October 1998, p. 1.

(97)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (16 April 1993), 5: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 21 April 1993. p. 6.

(98)" Ibid., 6.

(99) Cf. FIRST SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR EUROPE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Final Declaration, 6.

(100)" JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (16 April 1993), 8: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 21 April 1993, p. 6.

(101)" JOHN PAUL II, Angelus Talk (25 August 1996), 2: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 28 August 1996, p. 8.

(102) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Presidents of the European Episcopal Conferences (1 December 1992), 2: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English,

(103)" TERTULLIAN, Apologeticum, L, 50: CCL I, 171.

(104)" JOHN PAUL II, Angelus Talk (25 August 1996), 2:L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 28 August 1996, p. 8.

(105)" Ibid.

(106)" JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994), 48: AAS 87 (1995) 35.

(107) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Act of Entrustment to Mary in Fatima (13 May 1991), 2: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 20 May 1991, p. 7.

(108)" Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 82: AAS 68 (1976) 75-76; FIRST SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR EUROPE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Final Declaration, Conclusion.

(109) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994), 12: AAS 87 (1995) 12-13.

(110) Cf. ibid., 13, 51: AAS 87 (1995) 13-14, 36.

(111) Cf. ibid., 33: AAS 87 (1995) 25-26.

(112) Cf. ibid., 27: AAS 87 (1995) 22.

(113)" Ibid., 32: AAS 87 (1995) 24.

(114) Cf. ibid., 55: AAS 87 (1995) 37-38.

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