The New Evangelization - Europe


 

SECOND SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR EUROPE
Synod of Bishops


Jesus Christ Alive in His Church,
The Source of Hope for Europe

Preface

The significance of the moment was not lost when the Holy Father announced in his Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (nn. 21, 38), a series of Synods on the topic of evangelization in view of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, and communicated his intention to convoke continental Synods for America, Asia and Oceania. At that time, he made mention of still other Synod initiatives. Indeed, in the course of his apostolic visitation to Germany, during his Angelus talk in Berlin on 23 June 1996, the Holy Father convoked the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Europe.

Such a decision deserves attention not only because of the matter of the timing of the announcement and the continent concerned, but above all because of its impact on the Church and her pastoral life.

A similar happening in the Church's history is not easy to find, at least in recent times. Indeed, since the Synod is a young institution in the Church, it would be inappropriate to seek in that brief period of its history monumental moments. Nevertheless, the fact that a synodal assembly is again to be devoted to a continent in a such a brief space of time is certainly an exceptional event.

This matter of time and the choice of the European continent as well as the extraordinary and impelling character associated with the event, also brings to mind an urgency of another kind, that is, one which carries both a spiritual and theological significance, perceived as res novae, for which the city of Berlin stands as a symbol. These "new matters" involved both society and the Church. Within the Church they called into play a discernment process and commanded the attention of the Pastors and the entire community of believers.

The urgent nature of these happenings also brought about the convocation of the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Europe.

At this time, the local Churches in Europe are invited through this Lineamenta document to undertake an initial preparation for the celebration of this assembly. To do so, it is necessary to recall the circumstances surrounding its convocation, to consider the purpose attached to this assembly by the Holy Father, to be aware of people's attitudes and actions in various fields so that matters of real urgency and the true aspirations of the individual might be brought to the Synod so as to receive pastoral action for the good of the Church in Europe.

The present text is intended to encourage local Churches to reflect on various aspects of their local situation keeping in mind the overall picture of both the Church in Europe and the European continent, "from the Atlantic to the Urals". Such a reflection will involve using the suggestions and points presented in the Lineamenta to draw attention to the many necessities coming from both small communities to great centres and to bring to the Synod the spiritual needs of each part of the Church in Europe.

Never before has Europe experienced a sense of her oneness than at this present moment. For this reason, it is right that all its Bishops are involved in still another synodal assembly so as to give Europe the maximum pastoral concern. Before this takes place, however, an extensive consultation of all interested parties must be carried out in the different dioceses and communities, a consultation involving every territorial and ecclesial aspect of the European continent. Indeed, the success of a Synod depends on the vastness and depth of the preparation in the particular Churches. This is particularly true in the case of this synodal gathering, since an extensive consultation could not be accomplished for the first synodal assembly, given the special urgency in celebrating that Synod and the particular condition of the Church in Central and Eastern Europe which had recently emerged from her notable ordeal.

The Lineamenta are offered to meet the above requirements. After the general presentation of the topic chosen by the Holy Father, "Jesus Christ Alive in His Church, Source of Hope for Europe, a series of Questions is proposed directed to fostering responses which are to contain the most pressing matters of the particular Churches. These responses will make it possible to know the various concerns which will arrive at the Synod through the direct participation of the many sectors of the Church community.

Maximum results in both the number and the quality of the responses will be possible only if the local Churches, in addition to attentively examining their own situation, will look beyond their own setting; not in a sense of inquiry but in the spirit of communion, "in companionship" with the whole Church in Europe, that is, with the Catholic sense of an "exchange of gifts", of participating with a concern based on fellowship and the desire to carry one another's burdens (cf. Gal 6:2), and, of giving concrete suggestions to respond to the situations of the whole of Europe as they are perceived and experienced in their proper settings in the local Church.

The efficacy of the responses will be in direct proportion to how faithfully the series of Questions is followed. In other words, the content of the responses will be rich and truly reflective if the questions are understood to be directed to local situations. This does not preclude, however, the freedom to present and treat other subjects, absent or barely touched in the Lineamenta or in the Questions.

Responses are to arrive at the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops by 1 November 1998 and are to come from those Church bodies in Europe customarily called upon in these matters, that is, the Oriental Churches, Episcopal Conferences or similar Episcopal Bodies, Departments of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General.

It is hoped that special initiatives will be fostered in dioceses and communities so that the Lineamenta might be widely distributed, reflected upon and discussed in view of drafting a response involving the whole community, which will be more easily achieved through the interest and contact of those structures of dialogue which the Second Vatican Council has encouraged in the particular Churches. Such a situation will represent the initial step in the synodal journey.

If the Lineamenta document is well received and discussed, engaging the participation and prayers of all, it will, be a valuable occasion for coming to know— even in this first step of the synodal experience—the Lord Jesus as the source of hope for Europe and all its peoples.

Card. Jan P. Schotte, C.I.C.M.
General Secretary


INTRODUCTION

1. The Lord Jesus, before returning to the Father, promised to abide always, with the Eleven and to sustain them in their mission (cf. Mt 28:18-20). Immediately after the resurrection, indeed "on that very day" (Lk 24:13), he anticipated in a concrete way the promise he would announce before his ascension. On Easter Sunday, the Risen Christ made his presence known to "two of them" (Lk 24:13) who were returning home that evening downcast and troubled in spirit. Their words disclosed the sadness and the hopelessness which they felt in their lives: "we were hoping" (Lk 24:21). The past so full of trust and expectation was now but a painful memory. The Lord, who appeared to the two "in another form" (Mk 16:12), was momentarily hidden from them, "their eyes were kept from recognizing him" (Lk 24:16). Despite this, he made himself known to them, although in a veiled way, through the words he used "to interpret to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Lk 24:27). By personally accompanying the two disciples, his presence served to guide them to a revelation in word which gradually restored trust and vigour to their hearts (cf. Lk 24:32), thereby leading them to a full recognition of him as risen from the dead (cf. Lk 24:3 1). The revelation at Emmaus was the first new evangelization, the work of the Lord Jesus, the Master from the very beginning, now risen to his perennial mission as Saviour sent by the Father.

What happened to the two disciples at Emmaus stands before the Church in Europe as an interpretive model for her daily experiences on the continent characterizing her journey over 20 centuries, a journey enlightened by the Word of God which is extensively spread among her members and deeply penetrates her life. As an epoch comes to an end with the approach of the third millennium, Europe is fully in possession of great signs of faith and testimony. At the same time, however, the continent feels the wear on its peoples produced by history's various tensions, oftentimes generating great disappointment. Despite this situation, Europe is not abandoned to a hopelessness beyond redemption; its Christian roots remain and constantly endure. Above all, there is the presence of the Word of the Lord, who never tires of accompanying the people, in being at their side as they go their way, reserving to himself the kairos or proper time when grace will result in a new revelation of his Person.

Such a new revelation, a new evangelization, will reawaken hope; and faith, once strengthened by this new encounter, will rouse the courage known in the early days of the Church, and bring about an announcement to the people that "the Lord has risen indeed" (Lk 24:34).

2. The mystery of the Word and the presence of the living Jesus Christ in the Church nourishes communion in the Church and ceaselessly sustains her as she fulfils her mission. Before returning to heaven, to the right hand of the Father, Jesus approached the Eleven and said to them: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:18-20). With these words, the Master, clothed again in all his power, sends forth his disciples to the nations thus making them apostles—to instruct, to baptize, to teach obedience to his commandments, while assuring them of his abiding presence and constant company (cf. Mk 16:20).

This event accounts for the birth of the vocation of the Church which finds its source in the mystery of the Lord who died, rose again and ascended into heaven, a vocation which is exercised in the bond of communion and spread in the mission of salvation for all people. This Church, sent forth to the nations, art participates in human history and walks alongside humanity. In the midst of the human family, the Church wishes to announce again the eternal message of Jesus Christ, the wellspring of life and hope.

This intimate union of the Church with the community of peoples is poignantly expressed in the following words from the Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution on the Church: "The joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these too are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit it in their Journey to the kingdom of their Father and they nave welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly and intimately linked with mankind and its history".1

Today, this characteristic of the universal Church is reflected in a particularly clear manner in every part of the European continent. Not only is it seen by outside observers, but especially by those who live in her boundaries and who suffer, rejoice and hope in the wake of the great historical civil social, cultural and political revolution which has recently taken place.

3. Following these memorable events, other profound transformations are having an impact on peoples in the family of European nations. Bearing this in mind, while looking towards the approach of the third millennium, the Holy Father has desired to enrich the "series of Synods"2 with a Second Special Assembly for Europe.

During his apostolic visitation to Germany, at the Angelus prayer in Berlin on 23 June 1996, Pope John Paul II said: "From this famous city, which in a very special way has experienced the fate of European history in this century, I would like to announce to the whole Church my intention to convoke a Second Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops. Together with similar Synod assemblies in other parts of the world, it is to support preparations for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 (cf. Tertio millennio adveniente, n. 38). Following the well-known events of 1989 and the new conditions after the fall of the wall which had been built in this very city, it appeared that a reflection on the part of representatives of the continent's episcopal conferences was necessary. This task was carried out by the Special Assembly in 1991. Further developments in the succeeding five years in Europe suggested a new meeting with representatives of the European Bishops for the purpose of a thorough examination of the situation of the Church in view of the coming Jubilee. This must be done in such a way that the immense spiritual reserves of this continent can fully develop in all areas, and conditions can be created for an era of true rebirth at the religious, economic and social levels. This will be the result of a new proclamation of the Gospel".3

When the Holy Father, John Paul II, announced at Velehrad on 22 April 1990 the convocation of the First Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops, he pronounced words which revealed his cognizance of the extraordinary events which were taking place in those years in the vast central and eastern parts of Europe, and thus demonstrated his faithfulness to the episcopal vocation to keep watch over the passing of time so as to read the signs .4

This same pastoral responsibility is being evoked today in the consciences of the Bishops of Europe, in light of the new events taking place in Europe which are revealing compelling new tasks and calling for new undertakings.

The events of 1989, initially having received an immediate and enthusiastic response, gave the impression that in one stroke many social, cultural and spiritual crises were resolved; in reality these events only opened a door unexpectedly on a vast area where different peoples found themselves without notice in possession of age-old prerogatives which had been repressed for a long time. These same people also found themselves in a process of pursuing paths of their own choosing.

This widespread movement of a new-found freedom, could not, by its very nature, be contained in the territory where it first began; in some way, its effects were felt in the rest of Europe, placing other nations before the same new conditions which, from that time onwards, could no longer be hidden within the forced confines of an oppressive regime.

Geographically, Europe found itself open, dramatically exposed to a grave series of demands as well as "new dangers and new threats", especially that of nationalism.5

The Holy Father had these new happenings in mind—happenings which he scrutinized in light of history and the Spirit who works mysteriously in that history—when he decided to convoke this second synodal assembly for Europe. To his thinking these events provided a moment eagerly to be seized so that the continent, with its present changing geographic dimensions, might also devote energy to its integral rebirth.

These new events are also seen in relation to other phenomena which by now have become a part of the entire continent of Europe: materialism, agnostic indifference, a new mentality in countries which have emerged from totalitarian oppression, the complex character of society with its occurrences of religious subjectivism and relativistic individualism, the norm of truth in pluralism, the overvaluing of subjectivity and tolerance, and the temptation of gnosticism in culture, particularly through movements characterized by pantheism.

In a positive sense, other new elements must also be noted in the European experience, e.g., the dialogue with European culture founded on the fact that the doctrine of creation, redemption and communion with God is higher than relativism or pantheism; the catechumenate of adults; the search for spirituality in civil life and in the interaction of peoples; the new awareness of the importance of the family; and the protection of human life in all its stages and aspects. These elements provide avenues for hope and permit a glimpse into the future of the continent.

4. The Synod Fathers who will gather in synodal assembly will have the increasingly urgent task of meditating on the proclamation of the Gospel as a faithful response to the Lord's mandate and as the Church's offer of service to the peoples of Europe.

It is a question of a proclamation to be accomplished with a renewed spirit of mission on a continent which is deeply and distinctly marked by signs calling for an active obedient response to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church through the experiences of each particular Church on the European continent, in this period approaching the beginning of the third millennium after Christ.6

The manner of thinking manifested by the Holy Father in preparation for the first synodal assembly for Europe establishes a profound relation to the second assembly, since both are directed towards a goal which is both set in time and directed towards the future, i.e., the threshold of hope placed at the entrance of the third millennium, the date commemorating a Christological event, precisely that of the birth in time of the Word of God made man, who is salvation for all ages and millennia.

Furthermore, the two assemblies are linked together by a proclamation which spans time and the vicissitudes of history, and is characterized by a constant determination and faithfulness as well as an innate sense of salvific communion with humanity.

The celebration of this assembly, then, has great significance, since it associates Europe with the other continents whose Pastors are also to be involved in Synods in preparation for the same Jubilee event. This element corresponds to the internal unity given by the Holy Father to the "series of Synods"7 which can be called in a certain sense "Jubilee Synods", since they are part of the program leading to the opening of the third millennium.

5. The correlation among these Synods is seen as a special exercise of episcopal collegiality and pastoral charity. At the same time, since the Special Assembly for Europe will follow all the other continental assemblies, it is beneficial from an historical and ecclesial point of view also to point out that the unifying bond between the Synod for Europe and those of the other continents is the Gospel and its proclamation.

As the Synod movement proceeds in a spirit of anticipation towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Holy Father awaits a "new spring of the Christian life" in that Christ's followers might be docile to the action of the Holy Spirit, the principal agent of the new evangelization8

In contemplating the action of the Holy Spirit, Pope John Paul II exhorts believers to rediscover the theological virtue of hope. In fact, "the basic attitude of hope, on the one hand encourages the Christian not to lose sight of the final goal which gives meaning and value to life, and on the other, offers solid and profound reasons for a daily commitment to transform reality in order to make it correspond to God's plan".9

The path leading the Church in Europe towards this goal in the present historical, civil and religious circumstances, draws on the meditation of the Gospel as its true force. Doing so helps overcome fatigue, doubt and discouragement. In this case, the incident of the two disciples of Emmaus holds a message concerning deep harmony in life, serving as an invitation to re-evaluate one's relationship with the Lord, who was and is and ever shall be, today, yesterday and always, the one and only Saviour of all.

Hope consists in again finding, in the course of listening and welcoming the Lord, the strength and light to disperse the many dark clouds hanging over Europe in these days, a Europe which once welcomed the first apostolic preaching, widely proclaimed it to others within her boundary and carried it to other peoples. Lack of energy and routine, loss and slowness to learn are no excuse for either obstinance or passivity. The revelation of the Lord to the two grief-stricken disciples and their subsequent witness urges, encourages, and even guarantees hope for all those who, having known the Lord for such a long time, are unable to lose or remove the traces of him forever.


PART I

Europe towards the Third Millennium

Discerning the Spirits

6. The events at the origin of the two synodal assemblies for Europe are notably those linked to the fall of communism, symbolically represented in the destruction of the wall which divided the city of Berlin. These social and political happenings were signs of a profound cultural reform and a compelling need for renewal.

"The wall which divided Europe collapsed. Fifty years after the Second World War began, its effects ceased to ravage the face of our continent. A half a century of separation ended, for which millions of people living in Central and Eastern Europe had paid a terrible price".10

Such an upheaval took the whole world by surprise, but none more than the people themselves who were directly involved.

Faced with these events, the Church asked herself their significance, and continues to ask herself this question even today. Above all, she seeks to know the consequences of these events for her pastoral ministry of a new evangelization in response to the perennial unescapable mandate of preaching Jesus Christ, who in diverse times and among various peoples was, is and will be, yesterday, today and always, the one Saviour of peoples and every person.

The Church discerns the new living situation in the nations of Europe by searching out the underlying elements present in the various delusions resulting from the incapacity of the political, social and economic structures to satisfy the aspirations of the person.

Europeans are witnessing today the unmasking of real socialism, permitting the negative consequences of communism to appear in all their gravity. At the same time, a naive euphoria has developed, prompted by the regaining of the basic freedom of the individual. And yet this freedom is unsupported by a sound attitude of how to exercise it. Consequently, in the face of the necessity of adapting to the real Europe situation which still remains objectively difficult, some people look to the past with a certain nostalgia and attempt or desire to return to it.

Increasingly more widespread in the West are the evils of a human progress oftentimes devoid of spiritual values and those values related to the person. Such tendencies easily find their way into the East, resulting, paradoxically, in a situation which is very similar to the one based on the materialistic philosophy of the fallen regimes, and manifested in an anthropology closed to a transcendent vision of human existence.

The Lord's Spirit speaks to the Church, even in historic events. The community of the faithful far from being separated from these happenings, lives in their midst as a sign set before the nations.11 Discerning these events—properly her task for 2,000 years—is also her role at the present moment marked by profound changes, and in the years to come, at the beginning of the third millennium.

Contradictory Signs and Delusions

7. It should be pointed out that today's Europe has been acknowledged to be in possession of high achievements in the social and cultural fields, a fact which serves not only as a reason for its great development but also as an expression of it, even if these achievements also conceal threats and risks in other fields.

The breaking down of totalitarianism and the consequent re-establishment of democracy has brought with it a lack of appreciation of values and objective truth. In the field of human rights measures have been reached to safeguard the individual, but oftentimes at the expense of the poorest and those with no one to defend them. Though freedom of choice is a person's inalienable right, it can serve as a pretext for justifying a code of behaviour exclusively centred on the person. When a person's dignity is taken from him in truly a perverse chain of events which reduced him in the recent past to being a simple part of a great collective movement, it cannot help but lead to a solitude without meaning and to a weakening of the sense of solidarity.

Culture appears in Europe today as an absolute and all-inclusive quality attributed to the person. This attitude towards culture can hold a certain danger in deliberately fragmenting faith in Jesus Christ. Concretely speaking, such an attitude attempts to eliminate reference to the Faith as a fundamental and basic element of European culture and its unity. Such a situation favours the rise of a culture based on law which proposes models of behaviour devoid of the values of the Gospel.

The new evangelization, an understanding of the human being and the history of humanity and the person of Jesus Christ in every aspect of his relation to the Church are the decisive goals of the Church's proclamation in Europe today.

After the political turmoil on the continent, many people have spontaneously passed to speaking of a new Europe in reaction to a restriction of free communication among states and, at the same time, in appreciation of a common sense of belonging, not only as a result of living in the same continent but also on a moral and social basis.

The new element in these changes cannot be confined only to a form of government, a social organization or international communication. This new reality should also encompass the ever-new character of the Gospel, the Word of God which makes all things new. The new evangelization is an integral part of today's Church in today's Europe and ought to have bearing on the new situation. Europe is to be renewed through witness and the Spirit of the Lord who works in mysterious ways, in communion and in the Church's mission.

Examination of Conscience

8. The new action of proclaiming the Gospel is directly linked to an urgent necessity: an examination of conscience. "After 1989, however, there arose new dangers and threats. In the countries of the former Eastern bloc, after the fall of communism, there appeared the serious threat of exaggerated nationalism, as is evident from events in the Balkans and other neighbouring areas: This obliges the European nations to make a serious examination of conscience, and to acknowledge faults and errors, both economic and political, resulting from imperialist policies carried out in the previous and present centuries vis-a-vis nations whose rights have been systematically violated".12

In light of these new circumstances, the Church needs to make an examination of conscience,13 above all in those fields where the proclamation of the Gospel affects human needs. Today's sensitivity, urging a manner of living together in a less isolated manner, makes all the more serious and contradictory the lack of unity among Christians, a situation which discourages harmony and movements towards peace. Religious indifference and the lack of clarity in the witness of the Church's members contributes to the increase of movements which make false promises of salvation. The growth of sects and new religious movements, both in the East and West, is a challenge to the Church, diminishing the unity of the Church. However, it also points to the fact that people are in search of a "saviour".

Intolerance and the use of violence in service of the truth,14 often an expression of a certain nationalism which uses the faith for its own purposes, are areas to be considered attentively by the Church so that they might never overshadow her testimony. Reflection on the importance of respect for religious freedom in the present world would also be a timely topic."

A further source of concern is the lack of a clear condemnation of the grave injustices existent in the social and economic order", as well as the difficulty in the formation of conscience of adopting a catechesis directed to applying the values of the faith to practical situations in a person's everyday life.


PART II

The Living Jesus Christ in the Church

Mystery

The Lord's Presence

9. In the course of sharing in the preparatory activities of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and accepting the invitation of the Holy Father to live a period of anticipation as a "new advent", a particular sensitivity needs to be fostered for this Second Special Assembly for Europe as to what the Spirit is saying to the Church and to the Churches,17 above all in reference to the Divine Person of the Son of God made man 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ, alive today and always and continuously present in his Church.

The Constitution on the Divine liturgy of the Second Vatican Council Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 7, sets forth the diverse modes of the Lord's presence which carries a great significance in the celebration of the synodal assembly for Europe. "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)".

Another special presence of the Lord is seen in individual persons having a particular claim of nearness to him. "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 them and gives them a sign of his kingdom".18

Presence in History

10. "The People of God believes that it is led by the Spirit of the Lord, who fills the earth. Motivated by this faith, it labours to discern authentic signs of God's presence and purpose in the happenings, needs and desires in which this people has a part along with other men of our age".19

The whole Church acknowledges the effects of the Lord's presence in the recent happenings in Europe. On this continent he has worked with his unfathomable yet decisive presence and remains part of the fibre of the thoughts and actions of Europe's people. This presence is revealed in the signs which are taking place today in Europe.

It can be said about God's relation with humanity that discerning his presence in history is possible not only in past history but in the present: the cry of my people has reached my ears (cf. Ex 3:9); "in many and various ways God spoke" (Heb 1:1).

God's communication culminates in the person of Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, the Lord of history, the one and only who gives sense and universal meaning to the world and human existence. Christ is the one who not only participates in the sufferings of man, but is also the only one capable of transcending them and transforming them, because he alone is truly divine and truly human. In his person Christ assumed the problems flowing from the fragility of human nature and from the experience of death of which the people of Europe are afraid to speak.20

Communion

Communion with God and Humanity

11. God's efficacious presence in history does not simply bring to the Church the benefits of "the great works of God" but also the inestimable gift of communion with God himself and humanity. The gift of Christ is given in and through the Church as a work of Christ who always sustains her in holiness. He is the cornerstone of the Church, the sacrament of God's union with men and that of all humanity.21

All this comes not by the power, not by the will, but by the Holy Spirit. The Church is, at one and the same time, instituted by Christ and constituted in the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit's power human weakness becomes the source of salvation. Christ invites people to friendship with God; he invites them to the communion of life enjoyed by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is the fountain and wellspring of life for the whole person and for every person.

Communion and Hope

12. The first synodal assembly for Europe concluded with a Declaratio which set forth principles and suggestions for constructing a new Europe. These directives correspond to the demands of communion, unity and hope22 as well as permit a profound examination of conscience in light of the approaching Jubilee and a reflection on the application of the principles contained in this document in the six years which have passed since the first synodal assembly.

The deep aspirations towards unity and communion seem to accompany the course of events which have taken place since the first assembly. In that time, people spoke of the need for an exchange between the two lungs of the Church in Europe, as if referring to an act which had been violently inhibited in preceding decades. Then, after the fall of governments in the communist-bloc countries, relations were reestablished. At the same time, these relations allowed for the unchallenged spreading in both East and West of the harmful phenomena which gave rise to the social, political, economic and religious crises. In this regard, it is sufficient to call to mind the proliferation of the sects and movements expounding fundamentalist philosophy or to consider the unyielding urge to react to or escape from historic conditions of the past.

Mission

A Widespread Task

13. Because of her intimate union with all humanity as elect creatures of God, the Church has the widespread task of extending the goodness of God manifested in history and, above all, revealed in the person of his Son through his words and works. The mission to the world represents the exercise of the driving imperative which is connatural to the existence of the Church herself. Fullness of life is always a gift; salvation is God's work in Christ, never a human work only. The promise of salvation in its fullness is eschatological and proceeds in a world marked by the reality of sin.

The first task of the Church is to live fully the mystery of Christ as a communion of love and to proclaim this communion to all people. In proclaiming the message of salvation through mission, the Church has the aim of inviting people to participate in the mystery of God, thus opening the door of human existence to a transcendent meaning.

At this particular moment in the history of Europe, the mission of the Church takes the form of a new evangelization as the basic mandate received from the Risen Lord and as her historic task in view of the Synods in anticipation of the Jubilee of the Year 2000.23

"On the threshold of the third millennium ... we need to take up with fresh vigour ... the work of evangelization. Let us help those who have forgotten Christ and his teaching to discover him anew. This will happen when ranks of faithful witnesses to the Gospel begin once more to traverse our continent; when works of architecture, literature and art show in a convincing way to the people of our time the One who is 'the same yesterday and today and for ever'; when in the Church's celebration of the liturgy people see how beautiful it is to give glory to God; when they discern in our lives a witness of Christian mercy, heroic love and holiness".24

"Europe, with its grand missionary past, is questioning itself at the various points of its present 'ecclesial geography' and wondering if it is not about to become a missionary continent. There exists therefore for Europe the problem that was defined in Evangelii nuntiandi as 'self-evangelization'. The Church must always evangelize herself. Catholic and Christian Europe needs this evangelization".25

"If it is true that the difficulties and obstacles to evangelization in Europe can sometimes be found in the Church herself and in Christianity, the remedies and the solutions, then, are to be sought inside the Church and Christianity, that is, within the truth and grace of Christ, the Redeemer of Man, the Centre of the Universe and History.

The Church herself ought then to evangelize herself so as to respond to the challenges of the man of today".26

Ecumenism and Mission

14. "We know that the effectiveness of preaching the Gospel depends to a great extent on the harmony with which it is offered to the world. There is an intrinsic bond between ecumenism and mission. In this appeal for the unity of Christians for an effective missionary activity my thoughts especially turn to the peoples of the European continent. By its past and present, Europe is called to 'feel ever more strongly the need for religious and Christian unity and for a fraternal communion of all its peoples' (Slavorum Apostoli, n. 30)".27

It is certain that in this post-conciliar era the ecumenical endeavours of Catholic communities are showing a special sign of vitality and maturity in the faith. Historical events in this field have been difficult and complex. Past experience has not brought Christians to a point of living the depth of communion created by the gift of Baptism. It is difficult to imagine how Baptism can receive an authentic witness today by neglecting the bonds established among those who have received it.28

"We have had a privileged and providential opportunity to discover 'in the various cultures of European nations, both in the East and the West, in music, literature, the figurative arts and architecture, as well as in ways of thinking, that there flows a common stream leading to a single source' (Apostolic Letter Euntes in mundum, V, 12)".29


PART III

Jesus Christ the Source of Hope

Leitourgia

Gift of God and Human Spirituality

15. The liturgy (leitourgia) is the response of man to God who communicates himself and seeks a dialogue with all people. God's self-communication consists in the revelation of himself, calling each person to a colloquium through which he offers the gift of truth.

Despite certain tendencies today to place the individual at the centre of the liturgical action, a reason for hope proclaims that the human person is the masterpiece of God's work, coming from a free act on God's part. In his humanity, Jesus Christ remains the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (cf. Rv 1:8; 21:6; 22:13), the sole mediator (cf. 1 Tm 2:5) of grace and every perfect gift which comes from above (cf Jas 1: 17); he calls to salvation every person under heaven.

This dialogue of salvation at work in the liturgy becomes for the Church an habitual act, an attitude of communion, a manner of acting which qualifies the Church's action and presence in her various tasks: a communion internal to her very life shared among Christians in the service of truth; a dialogue with other religions on the double basis of the communal demands of truth and faithfulness to the truth received; and a dialogue with society, often on the basis of the dignity of the human person.

In light of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 this character of the liturgy needs to be recalled more than ever so as to keep the Person of Jesus Christ, born, died and risen, at the centre of each celebration, so as to avoid depriving the event of its true animating principle and ultimate end.

The Demand for Spirituality

16. Today in both the East and West, one can easily notice a general desire for the goods of the spirit, a search for a response to the deep questions of human existence and a disquiet and constant yearning after the definitive goal of humanity.30

If, in such circumstances, it is true that individuals in Europe can sometimes revert to unsuitable methods and means in achieving their desires—and indeed do—it remains equally true that the millennia-old culture of Europe still provides a truth capable of satisfying the perennial longings of humanity.

The Church offers the one valid measure for interpreting the decisive moments of human life and undertaking evangelization in a universal manner. "This measure is Christ, the incarnate word of God; in Christ, born, dead and risen, the Church can read the true meaning, the full meaning, of the birth and death of every human being.

Pascal already noted: 'We not only know God through Jesus Christ, but we know ourselves through Jesus Christ, and only through him do we know life and death. Outside of Jesus Christ we do not know what life and death are, who God is, or who we are' (Pensees, n. 548). It is an intuition that the Second Vatican Council expressed with justly famous words. "Only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on true light.... 'Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and his love, fully reveals man to himself and makes his supreme calling clear' (Gaudium et spes, n. 22). Instructed by Christ, the Church has the task of leading modern man to rediscover the full truth about himself."31

In today's democratic society—constantly affirmed by Europe over the centuries—a certain lack of tolerance is being displayed under the weight of time and the outdated institutions of the old continent. Europe is growing old on the historical level and is also growing old in the areas of demographics and in the passing of generations of people. This debilitation risks undermining its capacity for a true rebirth, unless it has recourse to the spiritual origin of its history, culture and European mode of being.

Truthfully, one can say that Europe has a Christian soul. Paul VI "called on us to 'awaken the Christian soul of Europe in which its unity is rooted'; to purify and bring back to their source the evangelical values still present but, as it were, disarticulated, geared to purely earthly aims; to awaken and strengthen consciences in the light of the faith preached in season and out of season; to cause their flame to converge above all barriers".32

"The history of the formation of the European nations runs parallel with their evangelization, to the point that the European frontiers coincided with those of the inroads of the Gospel. After 20 centuries of history, notwithstanding the bloody conflicts which have set the peoples of Europe in opposition to one another, and in spite of the spiritual crises which have marked the life of the continent—even to the point of raising serious questions in our own time about its future destiny—it can be said that the European identity is not understandable without Christianity, and that precisely in Christianity are found those common roots by which the continent has seen its civilization mature: its culture, its dynamism, its activity, its capacity for constructive expansion in other continents as well; in a word, all that makes up its glory.

"Today still, the soul of Europe remains united, because, beyond its common origin, it has similar Christian and human values".33

A reflection on the events of 1989 carried John Paul II to the following happy and prophetic announcement: "The Holy See has welcomed with satisfaction the great transformations which have recently marked the life of many peoples, especially in Europe. The irrepressible thirst for freedom which we have witnessed there has accelerated the process of evolution; it has brought down walls and opened doors. All this has the appearance of a veritable overthrow.... Before our eyes a 'Europe of the spirit' seems to be coming to birth, in direct correspondence to those values and symbols which brought her into being, to 'that Christian tradition which unites all her peoples' (Address to Members of an International Study Group on Martin Luther, 24 March 1984). Even as we point to this happy evolution which has led so many people to recover their identity and their equal dignity, we must remember that nothing is ever achieved once and for all.... Ancient rivalries can always reappear; conflicts between ethnic minorities can be sparked off anew; forms of nationalism can increase".34

Martyria

The Witness of Human Existence

17. Witness (martyria) is proclaiming in word and deed the message of Christ who has freed us in all aspects of human life. He points to the true significance of freedom in human existence.

In both Nazism and Stalinism freedom was used in a mistaken way: "work renders a person free" (Auschwitz) and "I do not know another country in which men are able to breathe with such freedom" (Soviet National Anthem).

This abuse of freedom provoked various inhuman and unheard-of evils: hate, persecution, exile, genocide, prisons, capital punishment. During this season of suffering many Christians bore witness to the grace of martyrdom and other actions which manifested the redemptive capacity of suffering. Today, the spiritual fruit of this suffering is awaited in reconciliation as the gift of God and the reason for hope in the future,

Freedom and Truth

18. Freedom which does not acknowledge the inherent limits of the demands of truth and those of the "truth of the person in community" immediately becomes licence. Freedom without obligations and responsibility is illusory.

The truth revealed in Christ is the context for the exercise of freedom.35

"The very word 'freedom' now makes the heart beat faster, And this is certainly the case because during the past decades a high price had to be paid for freedom. Deep are the wounds that remain in the human spirit from that period. Much time must yet pass before they will be completely healed".36 With these words the Holy Father invited a meditation on freedom in Europe "which for many years was sorely tried by being deprived of freedom under Nazi and communist totalitarianism,"37 and at the same time expressed the essential bonds of freedom: "Yes, true freedom demands order. But what kind of order are we talking about here? We are talking first of all about the moral order, order in the sphere of values, the order of truth and goodness. When there is a void in the area of values—when chaos and confusion reign in the moral sphere—freedom dies, man is reduced from freedom to slavery, becoming a slave to instincts, passions and pseudo-values".38

In posing the question on the way which leads to freedom, Pope John Paul II added: "Can man build the order of freedom by himself, without Christ, or even against Christ? This is an exceedingly important question, but how relevant it is in a social context permeated by ideas of democracy inspired by liberal ideology! In fact, attempts are being made to convince man and whole societies that God is an obstacle on the path to full freedom, that the Church is the enemy of freedom, that she does not understand freedom, that she is afraid of it. In this there is an incredible confusion of ideas! The Church never ceases to be in the world the proclaimer of the Gospel of freedom! This is her mission. 'For freedom Christ has set us free' (Gal 5: 1). For this reason a Christian is not afraid of freedom, nor does he flee from it! He takes it up in a creative and responsible way as the task of his life. Freedom, in fact, is not just a gift of God; it is also given to us as a task! It is our vocation: 'For you were called to freedom, brethren' (Gal 5:13), the Apostle reminds us".39

Diakonia

Service

19. Service (diakonia) towards the person in suffering becomes the source of hope insofar as it is a concrete manifestation of the dignity of the human person.

The nations of Europe are undoubtedly showing progress in acknowledging human dignity and human rights in various areas of life. Considerable sensitivity is being shown to the issue of human rights, especially in relation to the past. Progress in this area is manifested in practical interventions and charitable works.

Moreover, major attention is being dedicated to growing situations which are greatly affecting various persons: poverty in the midst of abundance, drug dependence, pornography, sexual tourism, pedophilia, abortion and euthanasia.

On the other hand, insensitivity to other people's sufferings also seems to be on the increase, caused by its excessive coverage and diffusion by the information media.

Such a situation reveals a deep inconsistency between culture and life in Europe, exemplified in a dramatic dichotomy between the elements of progress and concrete practice which needs to be healed through recourse to the true font of salvation and hope. The Gospel teaches an attitude of service and self-giving, the central aspect of its proclamation and the manner of putting the Gospel into practice. The capacity to love according to the Gospel is exercised primarily through placing a high value, particularly in the case of vulnerable persons and the poor, and developing evangelical charity in the various expressions of solidarity. In this sense, service can indeed be proclaimed as the way to hope in a world desensitized to giving due regard to the dignity of each human person.

This situation requires putting into practice what constitutes the specific contribution of the Church in Europe in the present historical moment.

The Church has a diakonia to exercise towards the peoples of Europe who, in the wake of social and political delusions and the present widespread expansion of liberalism and a philosophy based on economics, not to mention a loss of hope and a sense of tradition, have a need to hear the Gospel of salvation at the end of the second millennium. The specific character of the Church in Europe consists in presenting herself as a communion in her work of evangelizing a continent which is Christian by nature, even if the Christian message is not always proclaimed in a dynamic and efficacious manner.

Europe also displays another particular feature: specific change has came about, but sometimes without content and values. Jesus Christ is able to offer hope and communion to today's Europe.

Europe's proper task is to seek the spiritual sense of its social and political process, something already being done by certain ruling European politicians in the midst of signs of hate and violence.

In this undertaking the Church makes her contribution by proposing the way of communion in response to calls for unity and in answer to those who advocate hate. In this regard, it must not be forgotten that the goal of communism was always to destroy the communion of the Church. Therefore, if, after emerging from communism, the Church is to be renewed, communion must be strengthened.

Hope

20. "But I am among you as one who serves" (Lk 22:27). With these words the Master indicates his manner of life to his disciples and likewise asks them to imitate him (cf. Lk 22:24ff.). In giving them such a precept he makes reference to the heads of nations who use other methods in exercising their office, methods of power and prestige.

"He who serves" offers a benefit to others, knowing how to fulfil his mission in this way, without pretense for what transforms his existence and very identity; he is a servant so as to be a servant (cf. Lk 17:10).

In the momentous happenings which are taking place in history, the Lord's disciples cannot avoid this vocation. In making a commitment to the human and religious community, they fulfil the mandate of service received from their Master, imitating him first of all by example.

Showing themselves as servant among the nations, whose heads make their authority felt and have themselves called benefactors (cf. Lk 22:25), means to point out to them the way which leads to those goods which they are unable to expect from those they govern: the richness of faith, the gifts of charity and the service of hope.

At this moment in the life of the European continent, such a message has an immediate appeal, since "he who serves" is the Lord, risen, alive in his Church and in his disciples who continue his work. In fact, "The Church believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all, can through his Spirit offer man the light and strength to measure up to his supreme destiny. Nor has any other name under heaven been given to man by which it is fitting for him to be saved. She likewise holds that in her most benign Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point, and the goal of all human history. The Church maintains that beneath all changes there are many realities which do not change and which have their ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever".40

The Church is the sign of this hope and this proclamation, that is, the teaching of hope, the response in God's goodness and love for all (cf. Ti 3:4). She stimulates the nations of Europe to keep alive an awareness of its identity and to cultivate an historic optimism in approaching the future, the optimism of hope, always mindful of the "mighty works" (Acts 2: 11) done by God in its past.


CONCLUSION

Theological Hope

21. When the Church speaks of hope she surely does not intend to deny the truth and power of hope nor overlook those hopes longed for by the whole of humanity, at times strongly expressed, at other times hidden or even unknown. Such hopes move the history of the human family and give its great thoughts and charitable works their moral, civil, social and cultural value.

Nevertheless, the danger exists of confusing Christian hope with human hope. Christian hope is transcendent and fundamental in the Church's belief, it is a theological virtue.

In this sense, Christ is understood as the sign of hope for all. The Church has the mission to render a service to society through proclaiming this message of hope. Christ is the source of hope in the present moment of history (kairos), above all in reference to the liturgy, witness and service.

"Surrexit Christus spes mea" is the Church's song in the liturgical sequence of Easter. The Lord's resurrection is full of faith, because if Christ is not risen our faith is vain (cf. 1 Cor 15:14.17); at the same time, he is the basis for hope (cf. 1 Pt 1:21; 1 Cor 3: 11; Rom 5:4.5), because being risen from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep, so shall the Christian be raised together with him (cf. 1 Cor 15:20ff.; 1 Thess 4:16ff.).

On the last day all shall be raised; until then, there is a continual rising movement in this world's history, strongly bearing people along towards the destiny of their earthly works (cf. 1 Pt 1:9). Just as in the case of the disciples of Emmaus, earthly happenings have set Europe on the path leading to an encounter with the Lord, as recent events bear witness and as the continent's future destiny appeals, since it is an offshoot of the faith (Rom 11:16ff.). Europe, in its continuous act of evolution from its origins, immersed in the need to give to itself—over and above the obstacles and failures—the certainty of knowing how to recuperate its identity and, in the company of the risen Lord, to find the solutions of peace and not of misfortune (cf. Jer 29:11) for its sons and daughters.

Jesus Christ is he who is risen and has promised to be faithful (cf. Heb 10:23). In virtue of hope, all have become inheritors of eternal life through him (cf. Ti 3:6-7). His promise is the reason for hope which is not a trust in its own capacity separated from trust in God (cf. Jer 17:5). The Catechism of the Catholic Church 41 recalls that "man cannot fully respond to the divine love by his own powers" and Europe knows well that at times its "own strength" has betrayed it. Instead, in faithfulness to the Lord and in virtue of his resurrection, Europe possesses the source and sustenance for its hope.

Spes Nostra, Salve

22. Furthermore, in the events leading to the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Second Special Assembly for Europe has a singular place by reason of the special presence of the Mother of God in the Europe's history. The convocation of the first synodal assembly for Europe took place following the fall of totalitarianism, fostering at that time the new living conditions which now provide the basis for calling this second synodal assembly. In this regard, Pope John Paul II expressly declared: "It would be difficult not to recall that the Marian Year took place only shortly before the events of 1989. Those events remain surprising for their vastness and especially for the speed with which they occurred. The '80s were years marked by a growing danger from the 'Cold War'. 1989 ushered in a peaceful resolution which took the form, as it were, of an 'organic' development.... In the unfolding of those events one could already discern the invisible hand of Providence at work in a motherly way: 'Can a woman forget her child ... ?' (Is 49:15)".42 With this intuition, Pope John Paul II, in his ongoing meditation on Europe, discovers a precise origin for, this "organic" development, a place where the new light and dignity is born. That Marian Year is considered as a gestation period in which Mary showed again her motherhood towards the human race; she who is Mother of the Lord, to whom the angels (Cf. 1 Pt 1: 12; Rv 4:6.8; 5:6ff.) and all people (cf. Acts 1:11) are turned in contemplation and expectation of mercy (cf. Ps 123:2).

This history of mercy and wonderful works is the sure ground for hope even in the present moment and in the future. The Church rightly continues to greet Mary with the ancient words full of love and wonder: "Spes Nostra, Salve".

If the motherhood of Mary is able to be presented for Europe as an act of providence which opens the door to every hope, it certainly must be said that Europe has witnessed frequent and intense signs of the maternal presence of the Virgin Mother of God. This is exemplified in the places, apparitions and interventions which have almost literally accompanied humanity on its travels through history on the European continent, as seen in its many sanctuaries; in its striking memories of devotion and answered prayers; in assistance received to pressing requests; and in a gracious maternal concern which elicits security in the present and is every reason for trust in the future. These many Marian sites and interventions—even their very number—are undeniable signs from history and from Europe's own territory of that visible quality which makes the Virgin Mother like her Son—the "dynamic fountain of hope", according to the words of Europe's own son.43

23. The numerous disquieting events which have marked the recent history of Europe call for serious undertakings by the Pastors of the Church, requiring them to call upon the Lord's Spirit for discernment, counsel and pastoral action in the daily concerns of their ecclesial ministry.

The hope offered by the Risen Lord to the people of Europe at this particular moment of its history, also provides light for the Pastors in their particular Churches as well as in the future synodal assembly. Theirs is the hope of fulfilling the task of bringing to Europe, as a result of the new evangelization, a new consciousness of its proper identity, a more acute capacity of seeing the future path. Theirs is the hope of fulfilling the task of putting into action each good decision for approaching the future with a sincere "love for all people" (cf. Ti 3:4) and obedience to the Spirit of the Lord of history and all peoples.

This Lineamenta document has the purpose of offering in a general manner the topic of the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Europe and presenting points to foster reflection in the various particular Churches on the expectations and the urgent needs of each community or episcopal conference.

The attached Series of Questions is intended to draw attention to particular situations, to generate discussion and to assist the work of formulating responses which, coming from individual Churches, will be later integrated to form the necessary summary document and framework of discussion offered by the Church in Europe to the upcoming synodal assembly.

On the vigil of the Great Jubilee of the Millennium, "Jesus Christ, Alive in His Church, Source of Hope for Europe", is placed now more than ever as the cornerstone and the sign to the nations (cf. 11-10), who in himself brings into unity all things (cf. Eph 2:14), all times and seasons, today and always, to support and to move through space and time this part of the universal Church so as to show her to all "in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she be holy and without blemish" (Eph 5:27).

The Pastors gathered in Synod intend to proclaim to the Church in Europe with a new enthusiasm, new energies and in new ways, "in season and out of season ... unfailing in patience and in teaching" (2 Tm 4:2), this Jesus (cf. Acts 1:32), "Author of life" (Acts 3:15), "Pioneer of salvation" (Heb 2:10), "Pioneer and Perfecter of the faith" (Heb 12:2) and also the Author of Europe's Hope.


QUESTIONS

The following Series of Questions proposes some points, based upon the various parts of the Lineamenta text, to promote the reflection on various subjects so as to facilitate the drafting of the responses which are to be used in the composition of the Instrumentum laboris.

Although the Lineamenta necessarily has a general character, the questions are meant to focus attention on specific situations in the community and the local Churches and generate responses which relate to the concerns of these faith communities and their particular and immediate expectations.

The questions deal with subjects and situations which have a particular urgency in the local Churches of Europe today, but are not intended to cover all possible expectations and necessities. For this reason, persons are at liberty in the responses to make suggestions and treat subjects which reflect the given state of affairs.

Two Synods for Today's Europe

1. The First Special Assembly for Europe took place in 1991, scarcely two years after the events of 1989, whose consequences can be more fully evaluated today.

What signs of the events of 1989 exist in your Church? What opportunities are awaiting action in the new living conditions in Europe? What disappointments, if any, resulted after the events of 1989? What positive signs are observed for welcoming the Gospel? Enumerate signs of renewal in living the mystery of the Lord alive in his Church? What dangers and threats are present?

2. What are the Bishop's principal concerns in the religious and moral situation of society of today in Europe? How does he go about making an examination of conscience concerning the new circumstances and their impact on his ministry?

The Church, Culture and Society

3. How is your Church reacting to the pluralism of faith and culture in Europe? What is the basis for ethics in society today? From what sources in culture do atheism, agnosticism and religious indifference find nourishment today?

4. How is the separation between progress and the values of the spirit manifested in your area? What are its consequences in the difficult relationship between freedom and solidarity? Do people enjoy religious freedom or are there still episodes of intolerance?

5. What development is needed in the relations between Church and State?

The Church as Mystery, Communion and Mission

6. Is the awareness that the Church is mystery, communion and mission encouraged in your area? Or do other conceptions of the Church prevail?

Mystery and Liturgy in the Church

7. In your Church, what consideration and attention is given to the sense of divine mystery as an inherent part of liturgy and worship celebrations? Is the liturgy truly an event where God is present and a time of union with the Lord, or do other things take precedence, e.g., the externals of expression, human capabilities in the leading the assembly, overemphasis on observing rubrics and carrying out the rites, too much attention to speaking or gestures?

8. How is a desire for spirituality manifested in your area, and how does it find response?

Communion and Service in the Church

9. How do believers in your Church manifest their communion with God and neighbour? How do the laity and priests collaborate in seeking communion in the Church? Describe efforts towards Christians of little faith or with those who might be distant from the Church?

10. In your area, does the lack of unity among Christians have particular consequences? How is ecumenism manifested in your Church? What are your experiences and difficulties in relation to other Churches? How do you consider and approach the phenomenon of the increasing spread of the sects?

11. Communion is the essential character of the Church but also a task to fulfil: how does your Church manifest this service to communion in various places and on behalf of the various categories of persons inside or outside of the Church community?

The Church's Mission and Witness

12. Is the work of the new evangelization in your ministry centred on the person of Jesus Christ alive in the Church, always keeping in mind the new conditions of humanity and the historic moment? Is the new evangelization considered a primary duty? If it is true that Europe has a Christian soul, can the spiritual sense of social and political progress be used as a means of the new evangelization in your Church? In what way is the regained freedom in Europe inspiring the new evangel on? Describe the obstacles to the new evangelization in your area?

13. What are the priorities in Christian testimony in your area? Which persons have a major need of the witness of charity by Christians? How is the service to life manifested, from conception to natural death? What attention is given to abuses to the person and to those persons most exposed to material and moral misery?

Jesus Christ, the Church and Hope

14. Jesus Christ, alive in his Church, is the source of hope for Europe. In what ways does the Church's spirituality, communion and missionary witness nourish hope in Europe today? Is the hope offered by your Church linked to presenting the good things coming from the Gospel or is it based on other resources?

Other Subjects

15. Do you perceive in your Church needs and aspirations which are not included in the above questions or in the Lineamenta text, but have a particularly urgent pastoral character and are shared with other particular Churches? Do you have other subjects to suggest for treatment during the Synod?


Notes

1. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium el spes, n. 1.

2. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994), n. 21: AAS 87 (1995) 17.

3. John Paul II, Talk at the Angelus Prayer, 23 June 1996, Berlin (Germany), n. 2: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 26 June 1996, p. 3.

4. Cf. John Paul II, Talk at the Regina Caeli Prayer, 22 April 1990, Velehrad (Czechoslovakia), n. 2: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 23 April, 1990, p. 1.

5. John Paul II Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994), n. 27: AAS 87 (1995) 22.

6. John Paul II, Discourse at the Opening of the Consultation Meeting in Preparation for the Special Assembly for Europe, 5-7 June 1990, Vatican City: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 11 June 1990, pp. 1, 6.

7. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994), n. 21: AAS 87 (1995) 17.

8. Cf. ibid., n. 18: AAS 87 (1995) 16; ibid., n. 45: AAS 87 (1994) 34.

9. Ibid., n. 46: AAS 87 (1994) 34.

10. John Paul II, Homily at the Liturgy Commemorating the Millennium of the Martyrdom of St Adalbert, Gniezno (Poland), 3 June 1997: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 11 June 1997, p. 4.

11. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis redintegratio, n. 2.

12. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente, (10 November 1994), n. 27: AAS 87 (1995) 22.

13. Cf. ibid., nn. 33-37: AAS 87 (1995) 25-30.

14. Cf. ibid., n. 35: AAS 87 (1995) 27.

15. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis humanae, n. 1.

16. Cf. John Paul II Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994), n. 36: AAS 87 (1995) 27-29.

17. Cf. ibid., n. 23: AAS 87 (1995) 19.

18. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, n. 50.

19. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, n. 11.

20. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor hominis (4 March 1979), n. 13: AAS 71 (1979) 282-284; ibid., n. 15: AAS 71 (1979) 286-289.

21. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, n. 1.

22. Cf. First Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Europe (1991), Declaratio: Ut testes simus Christi qui nos liberavit, nn. 5, 6, 10.

23. Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994), n. 21: AAS 87 (1995) 17.

24. John Paul II, Homily at the Liturgy Celebrated for the Millennium of the Martyrdom of St Adalbert, Gniezno (Poland), n. 6: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 11 June 1997, p. 4.

25. John Paul II, Homily during the IV Symposium of European Bishops, 20 June 1979, n. 4: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 2 July 1979, p. 10.

26. John Paul II, Address during the V Symposium of European Bishops, 5 October 1982, n. 4: L'Osservatore Romano Italian daily edition, 7 October 1982, p. 2.

27. John Paul II, Homily at the Conclusion of the Church Unity Octave, 25 January 1991, n. 4: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 28 January 199 1, p. 4.

28. Cf. John Paul II, Letter to cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, President of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences on the Occasion of the IV European Ecumenical Meeting at Erfurt (29 September 1988), in "Europa: Un Magistero tra storia e profezia", a cura di M. Spezzibottiani, 1991, p. 292-294.

29. Ibid.

30. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, n. 10.

31. John Paul II Discourse to Participants in the Seventh Symposium of the Bishops of Europe, 17 October 1989, n. 4: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 27 November 1989, p. 5.

32. John Paul II, Discourse to the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe, 19 December 1978, n. 2: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 1 January 1979, p. 10-11.

33. John Paul II, Declaration to Europe, Santiago de Compostela (Spain), 9 November 1982, n. 2: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 29 November 1982, p. 6

34. John Paul II, Discourse to the Diplomatic Corps to the Holy See, 13 January 1990, n. 5: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 29 January 1990, p. 1

35. Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis splendor (6 August 1993) nn. 1-3, 84-87: AAS 85 (1993) 1200-1203.

36. John Paul II, Homily at the Close of the 46th Eucharistic Congress, 1 June 1997, Wroclaw (Poland), n. 5: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 4 June 1997, p. 2.

37. Ibid

38. Ibid.

39. Ibid.

40. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, n. 10.

41. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2090.

42. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994), n. 27: AAS 87 (1995) 22.

43. Dante Aligheri, The Divine Comedy: Paradise, Canto XXXIII, 12.

 


SELECTIONS

At the time of the celebration of the First Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops, a volume was published containing all the addresses of Pope John Paul II on Europe. Readers were surprised at the Holy Father's repeated references to Europe in his many discourses, messages and appeals as he took into consideration the new situation which resulted and Europe's still uncertain though foreseeable future.

The important papal teaching in this book, drawing the attention even of non-Catholics, has continued without interruption since the time of the synodal assembly in that historic period marked by the dramatic events of freedom, conscience and the redrawing of Europe's boundaries.

Since that time, this "ongoing meditation on Europe" has not ended. On the eve of the Second Assembly, this "Summa on Europe", which the Holy Father is composing as a passionate and thought provoking tribute to Europe and the Church, is being further enriched.

The following selections are gathered from documents coming from the years 1992 to the first months of 1998 which have revealed the untiring teaching of Pope John Paul II on Europe. These selections are not intended to be a substitute for reading the source documents from which they are taken. In fact, it is hoped that the present citations will serve to encourage the reader to search out the full richness of the papal magisterium on the subject.

 

1) Address to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe (1 December 1992); L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 9 December 1992, p. 4.

1. ... In the face of the new situation, whose beginning can be traced back to 1989, there is the need for a new arrangement especially of the structures of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) because per se it includes the Church of the whole continent. In fact, during this meeting the conclusions in this regard will be explained and discussed so that in the coming year the Council can already work in its complete dimension. Precisely so that it can have new strength and more effective authority in its institutional activity, the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences themselves are called to be members of it. This more adequately corresponds to the representative dignity of the European episcopal organization and to the intentions and wishes expressed within the present Council of the European Episcopal Conferences.

2. ... If the word "synodos" indicates "the communion of ways" on which the Church is travelling, then the Council of the Episcopates should systematically realize, deepen and strengthen this "communion". This is required by the Church's internal dynamism. This is also required by the Church's mission in the contemporary world (cf. Gaudium et spes) and her service to man, this "European man" from the Atlantic to the Urals, because this is the Church's "way" on this continent....

3. ... When we speak of the "new evangelization" we do so because it is always and everywhere "new". "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb 13:8). This "newness" belongs to the identity of the Gospel and evangelization, which is a continuous, constant imperative for Christ's witnesses.... The imperative of evangelization is, therefore, always timely.

As for what concerns Europe, however, everyone knows that in this century it has been subjected to strong currents of "counter-evangelization As we can see all about us, it is necessary that the Church renew and strengthen her readiness to give a consistent witness on behalf of Christ, who "is the same yesterday, today and forever".....

4. ... The Declaration of last year's Synod emphasized the need for co-operation among all the Christians of Europe for the cause of the Gospel. For our part we want to do everything possible to foster this ecumenical co-operation....

 

2) Address to the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (16 April 1993); L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 21 April 1993, pp. 6, 10.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. During these days the liturgy proposes for our reflection the invitation found in the First Letter of Peter to build "a spiritual edifice" for offering sacrifices pleasing to God (cf. 1 Pt 2:5).

These words help us understand even more deeply the value and importance of the Church's commitment during this singular period of European history: a commitment to renewed evangelization and active involvement in building a "new Europe", open to universal solidarity.

In such a context this meeting could, in a certain sense, be considered "historic", not only because it sets for the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) a new impulse in its line of action by now consolidated for many years, but it also helps to adapt it to the "signs" and "challenges" of the present time so as to make it an effective instrument of the new evangelization in view of the third millennium of Christianity. It means searching together for the most appropriate ways to evangelize Europe, and to foster an authentic renewal of society based on the risen Christ, the "living stone rejected by men and chosen and precious to God" (1 Pt 2:4). The Pastors therefore are gathered around Christ, place their trust in him, and on him, and on him alone, base their apostolic and missionary plans.

With these intentions we met in the Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops, which took Place in autumn of 1991, and "gathered in Christ's name, we prayed that we might hear what the Spirit is saying today to the Churches of Europe (cf. Rv 2:7, 11, 17) and be able to discern me paths of the new evangelization of our continent" (Final Declaration, Preface).

2. That important Synod assembly was the source of guidelines and proposals into which the CCEE, in its new composition, should delve deeper and fulfil....

3. The history of the CCEE began during the years immediately following the Council as a response to the need felt by many people for appropriate forms of co-operation among the Churches of Europe. Following on the first symposiums—held in Noordwijkerhout, the Netherlands, in 1967 and in Chur, Switzerland, in 1969—which were open to the Bishops of the whole European continent, the "Consilium Conferentiarum Episcopalium Europae" was founded in Rome, during the meeting of 23-24 March 1971, and its statutes were approved by the Congregation for Bishops on 10 January 1977. Others followed, all of them held in Rome, and symposiums through regular contacts between the representatives of the various Episcopal Conferences, especially those of Western Europe who could freely meet and communicate with one another, there was an ever more intense exchange of information, experience and points of view on the main pastoral problems of the nations, fostering the development of a spirit of true co-operation and fraternal communion on a European dimension.

Nor should we ignore the contribution made to ecumenical dialogue with the various Christian confessions through the special mixed working group established by the CCEE and the Conference of European Churches (KEK) in 1971. Special attention was also given to the problems of other religions. The results of this patient work of listening and fraternal seeking are consoling: indeed, an atmosphere of mutual respect has developed, and co-operation has extended to the Christians of the whole continent who are concerned to offer the people of our day the Gospel message of salvation.

4. If we pause to analyze the topics discussed during the various general assemblies of the CCEE we can note a certain evolution over time: in the first years the emphasis was placed on the typical post-conciliar problems; later attention was given to more specifically European problems. In the face of the profound, complex changes of society in the cultural, political, ethical and spiritual areas, there has been an ever increasing awareness of the need for a new evangelization.

Following the events of 1989 which saw the fall of ideologies which had dominated for decades, and the collapse of historical barriers between the peoples of Europe, the Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in 1991, was an important and providential step in this perspective. "Europe today", the Final Declaration recalls, "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" (n. 2).

Europe is therefore called to a necessary work of courageous self-evangelization, a mission which the Church intends to provide in the context of the changed social and political situations, which surely favour a more fruitful encounter and "exchange of gifts" between the ecclesial communities of East and West.

I sincerely hope and pray that the Lord may bless the efforts your group has made up to now, and give an ever wider range to your activity, more important than ever for the future of the continent.

5. Indeed, the CCEE is faced with sensitive tasks concerning the new evangelization of Europe: it is necessary to provide for the promotion of an ever more intense communion among Dioceses and the national. Episcopal Conferences, for the growth in ecumenical co-operation 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".

Dear brothers in the Episcopate, please allow me to offer you some reflections which I hope will be useful for your work during this phase of renewal and planning.

In the light of the positive experience of recent years, the CCEE, which is a continental group, will be concerned with problems related to the situation and duties of the Church in Europe. Although it is true that, because of the demands of subsidiarity, each national conference dedicates itself to what is its primary field of concern, just as the Pastor of a given Diocese devotes himself to the service of the portion of the Christian people entrusted to his care, it is, however, easy to understand that it cannot limit its horizons to the boundaries of the nation, since the situation always has a particular European as the CCEE's task is to analyse the problems that perspective, assess their supranational implications, and thus offer assistance to the Episcopates of each region and the Pastors of the local Churches.

6. Knowing the European and everything that concerns him is indispensable for fulfilling the salvific mission of the People of God on the continent. However, such an up-to-date knowledge is equally important so that the CCEE may present itself authoritatively to the various forms of public opinion as the witness and spokesman of the Church's incisive presence. The community of believers thus will be able to make its voice heard in civic forums as well, the voice of a harmonious community ready to proclaim the Gospel of hope and charity to all.

From this point of view, dialogue with the other Christian confessions united in the KEK is more opportune than ever. However, this co-operation must be cultivated especially with a view to the progressive re-establishment of complete unity among the Christians of the "old" continent where the beginning of the divisions and the painful wounds took place.

Thus, besides subsidiarity, the CCEE must have its action inspired by solidarity in all its many aspects: solidarity among the Catholic Episcopates, solidarity in the search for unity among Christians, and last of all, solidarity with Europe, the continent on which different peoples have set out together on the path of social, political and economic understanding. Through the CCEE, the Church will seek to give the continental community that "added soul", thereby strengthening what could be called "the soul of Europe".

7. Dear and esteemed brothers in the Episcopate, how could one fail to realize that all this is closely related to the historical turn of the new millennium? An evangelizing mission of great dimension is calling us. We must rediscover and strengthen the Christian roots of the diverse nations of the whole continent; we must help them find the Christian leaven which has permeated the manifold expressions of its cultural heritage and foster the presence of the Gospel ferment in Europe's "today" and "tomorrow", especially in light of the unveiled attempts to remove the faith and saving truth from every expression of public life.

Precisely in the perspective of this urgent need for evangelization, could we not think of a European "plan" in view of the coming jubilee of the faith in the year 2000?

8. Solidarity, which must inspire the relations between the various components of ecclesial and civil society, will not fail to urge the CCEE to broaden its horizons and create contacts and understanding with the Churches and peoples "beyond Europe" too. It is not simply a question of organizational problems and ongoing relationships with similar groups of other continents. The objective is much greater, and more essential is the task which awaits it. In fact, it is a question of highlighting the close solidarity between Europe and the countries of Africa, Asia and the Americas, 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 least fortunate, will be your constant concern, thus fulfilling the Gospel of charity and peace which the risen Lord proclaims with power to the whole of humanity during this Easter season.

9. Let us turn, then, to Christ, who conquered death and sin, in order to reaffirm our readiness to build with our self-offering that "spiritual edifice" in which his justice and love reign.

Indeed, great is the awareness of our limitations, but equally powerful is our certainty of his presence and his constant saving intervention.

The mission of believers, dear brothers in the Episcopate, is always and everywhere directed to the future, towards the eschatological future of which we are certain in the faith, and to the historical future, of which we can be humanly unsure. Let us recall the first evangelizers of the European continent, Sts Peter and Paul; St Benedict, the father of Western monasticism, which had such an important role in the formation of Christian Europe; let us think also of those who paved the way of the Gospel for new peoples, such as Augustine, Boniface, or the saintly brothers from Thessalonika, Cyril and Methodius. They were not sure of the human success of their mission, or even of their own fate. Stronger than every uncertainty was their faith, and firm was their hope; more powerful was the love of Christ which "impelled" them (cf. 2 Cor 5:14). In their apostolic zeal the active and sanctifying Spirit became visible. Like them, we too are invited to be docile and effective instruments of the Spirit's action in the age in which we live.

Let us ask this of Mary, the Star of Evangelization, and entrust to her the development of the new CCEE, serving the European continent and its Christian future.

With these sentiments I thank you for the work you do these days and express my fervent, fraternal Easter wishes to each of you. I add a special Apostolic Blessing for you and the ecclesial communities entrusted to your pastoral care.

 

3) Message on the 50th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War in Europe (8 May 1995): L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 17 May 1994, pp. 1, 2, 3, 4.

1. Fifty years ago, on 8 May 1945, the Second World War ended in Europe. The conclusion of that terrible calamity not only led people to hope for the return of the prisoners, deportees and refugees; it also awakened a desire to build a better Europe. The Continent could begin once more to hope in a future of peace and democracy.

Half a century later, individuals, families and peoples still retain memories of those six terrible years: memories of fear, violence, extreme poverty, death; tragic experiences of painful separation, endured in the absence of all security and freedom; recurring traumas brought about by the incessant bloodshed.

2. It was not easy at the time to comprehend fully the many tragic dimensions of the conflict. But the passage of time has brought an increased awareness of the effect of that event on the 20th century and on the future of the world. The Second World War was not only an historical event of the first order; it also marked a turning-point for humanity in our time. As the years go by, the memories of the War must not grow dim; rather, they ought to become a stern lesson for our generation and for generations yet to come.

What the War meant for Europe and for the world has come to be understood over the past five decades, thanks to new information which has made possible a better knowledge of the sufferings it caused. The tragic experience of the years 1939-1945 today represents a kind of point of reference necessary for all who wish to reflect on the present and on the future of humanity.

In 1989, on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the War, I wrote: "Fifty years later, it is our duty before God to remember these tragic events in order to honour the dead and to share in the sorrow of all those whom this outbreak of cruelty wounded in body and soul, while at the same time forgiving the offences that were committed".

The memory of all that took place must be kept alive: this is our clear duty. Six years ago, at the time of the anniversary just mentioned, unprecedented social and political developments were taking shape in Eastern Europe with the rapid fall of the Communist regimes. This was a profound social upheaval which made it possible to put an end to certain tragic consequences of the World War, the end of which, for many European nations, had not in fact meant the beginning of a full enjoyment of peace and democracy, as might have been expected on 9 May 1945. Indeed, some peoples lost their power of self-determination and had been enclosed in the constricting boundaries of an empire, while attempts were made to destroy not only their religious traditions but also their historical memory and the age-old roots of their culture. I wished to stress this in my Encyclical Letter Centesimus annus. For those peoples, in a certain sense, it was only in 1989 that the Second World War came to an end....

11. After 1945, wars unfortunately did not come to an end. Violence, terrorism and armed attacks have continued to darken these last decades.

We have witnessed the so-called "Cold War", in which two opposing blocs preserved a dangerous balance of power thanks to a continual arms race. Even when this bilateral confrontation disappeared, armed clashes did not come to an end.

Today too many conflicts are still raging in different parts of the world. Public opinion, shaken by the horrible pictures which enter homes each day via television, reacts emotionally but all too quickly grows accustomed to these conflicts and comes to accept their inevitability. Besides being unjust, this attitude is extremely dangerous. We must never forget what happened in the past and what is still happening today. These are tragedies which affect countless innocent victims, whose cries of terror and suffering are a challenge to the consciences of all decent men and women. We cannot and must not yield to the logic of arms!

The Holy See, in addition to being a signatory of the major International Treaties and Conventions, has tirelessly sought to remind the international community of the urgent need to strengthen guidelines for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and for the elimination of chemical and biological weapons, especially those which are especially deadly and which strike indiscriminately. The Holy See has also recently invited public opinion to become more aware of the continuing phenomenon of the arms trade, a grave matter urgently calling for serious ethical reflection. Nor should it be overlooked that not only the miniaturization of States but also the easy access to arms enjoyed by private individuals or groups, which favours the spread of organized crime and terrorism, represents an unpredictable and constant threat to peace.

12. War never again! Yes to peace! These were the sentiments commonly expressed after the historic date of 8 May 1945. The six horrible years of conflict provided everyone with an opportunity to grow in the school of suffering. Christians too were able to draw closer together and question their own responsibilities for their disunity. They also discovered anew the solidarity of a destiny which they share in common and with all men and women of whatever nation. An event which marked the depths of strife and division between peoples and individuals thus proved for Christians a providential opportunity to become aware of their profound communion in suffering and in bearing witness. Beneath the Cross of Christ, members of all the Churches and Christian communities were able to resist even unto the supreme sacrifice. Many of them, with the peaceful weapons of witness in suffering and of love, stood up in an exemplary way to their torturers and oppressors. Together with others—believers and non-believers, men and women of every race, religion and nation—they held aloft very clearly, above the mounting wave of violence, a message of brotherhood and forgiveness.

On this anniversary, how can we fail to remember those Christians who, bearing witness in the face of evil, prayed for their oppressors and bent down to bind the wounds of all? By sharing in suffering, they saw one another as brothers and sisters, and fully experienced the unreasonableness of their divisions. Shared suffering made them feel ever more deeply both the weight of the divisions still existing among Christ's followers and the negative consequences which these divisions entail for the building of Europe's spiritual, cultural and political identity. Their experience serves as a warning for us: we need to continue along this path, praying and working with fervent confidence and generosity, in expectation of the fast-approaching Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. May Christians set out towards that goal on a pilgrimage of penance and reconciliation, in the hope of being able at last to restore full communion between all believers in Christ, a step which will assuredly benefit the cause of peace.

13. The wave of suffering with which the War engulfed the earth has impelled believers belonging to all religions to put their spiritual resources at the service of peace. Every religion, albeit in historically different ways, has had this singular experience in these past five decades. The world can bear witness that, after the enormous tragedy of the War, something new was born in the hearts of members of the different religious denominations: they feel more responsible for peace on earth and they have begun to co-operate with one another. The World Day of Prayer for Peace held in Assisi on 27 October 1986 publicly ratified this attitude born of suffering. Assisi revealed "the intrinsic link between an authentic religious attitude and the great good of peace".19 In the subsequent Days of Prayer for Peace in the Balkans (held in Assisi on 9-10 January 1993 and in St Peter's Basilica on 23 January 1994), particular attention was given to the specific contribution asked of believers for the fostering of peace through the weapons of prayer and penance.

The world as it travels toward the end of the second millennium expects from believers more resolute action on behalf of peace. As I said to the representatives of the Christian Churches and major religions assembled in Warsaw in 1989 for the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the war: "From the heart of our various religious traditions flows the testimony of compassionate sharing in the sorrows of mankind, of respect for the sacredness of life. This is a great spiritual force which makes us more confident for the future of humanity". Even after 50 years, the unfortunate events of the Second World War still make us acutely aware of the need to unleash these spiritual energies with rekindled power and commitment.

In this regard we need to recall that it was precisely the terrible experience of the War which led to the birth of the United Nations Organization, which Pope John XXIII of venerable memory considered a sign of our times for the "maintenance and consolidation of peace among peoples". From the cruel contempt for people's dignity and rights there was also born the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 50th anniversary of the United Nations, being celebrated this year, should be an occasion for consolidating the international community's commitment to the service of peace. For this to happen, the United Nations Organization will have to be granted the instruments which it needs in order to carry out its mission effectively.

14. During these days, in many parts of Europe, celebrations and commemorations are taking place in the presence of civil authorities and leaders from every community and country. As I join in this commemoration of the sacrifice made by the many victims of the war, I wish to invite all men and women of good will to reflect seriously on the connection that must exist between the memory of that terrible world conflict and the aims which should inspire national and international policies. In particular, it will be necessary to ensure effective means of controlling the international arms market and to make joint efforts to set up adequate structures for intervention in case of crises, in order to persuade all those involved to prefer negotiations to violent confrontation. Sadly, while we are celebrating the return of peace, is it not a fact that there are people who continue to prepare for war, both by promoting a culture of hatred and by distributing sophisticated weapons of war? In Europe, is it not a fact that painful conflicts which have gone on for years still await peaceful solutions? Unfortunately, this 8 May 1995 is not a day of peace for some areas of Europe! I am thinking especially of the tormented lands of the Balkans and the Caucasus, where arms are still roaring and human blood continues to be shed.

Twenty years after the end of the Second World War, in 1965, Pope Paul VI, addressing the United Nations Organization, asked: "Will the world ever come to change the selfish and bellicose outlook that has spun out such a great part of its history up to now?". This question still awaits a response. May the memory of the Second World War rekindle in all—to their possibilities—a resolve to work for a political commitment to peace in Europe and in the entire world.

15. My thoughts now turn to the young people who have had no personal experience of the horrors of that War. To them I say: dear young people, I have great confidence in your ability to be authentic witnesses to the Gospel. Make a personal commitment to serve life and peace. The victims, the combatants and the martyrs of the Second World War were for the most part young people like you. For this reason I ask you, the young people of the 21st century, to be particularly alert to the signs that the culture of hatred and death is growing. Reject sterile and violent ideologies. Renounce every form of extreme nationalism and intolerance. It is along these paths that the temptation to violence and war slowly but surely appears.

You have been given the mission of opening new paths to fraternity among peoples, building a single human family, and coming to understand more deeply the "law of reciprocity in giving and receiving, of self-giving and of the acceptance of others". This is demanded by the moral law written by the Creator in the heart of every person, a law confirmed by God in the Revelation of the Old Testament and then brought to perfection by Jesus in the Gospel: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Lv 19:18; Mk 12:31); "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another" (Jn 13:34). A civilization of love and truth can only be built if openness to others extends to the relations between peoples, nations and cultures. May this appeal resound in the heart of everyone: Love other peoples as you love your own! The path of humanity's future is that of unity; and authentic unity—so the Gospel proclaims—is found through Jesus Christ, our reconciliation and our peace (cf. Eph 2:14-18).

16. "And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these 40 years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord" (Dt 8:2-3).

We have not yet entered the "promised land" of peace. The memory of the painful journey of the War and of the difficult journey of the second postwar period is a constant reminder of this. This journey, in the dark days of the war, in the trying postwar years, and in our own uncertain and problematic times, has often shown that in human hearts, including those of believers, there is a strong temptation to hate, to despise others and to deceive them. But on this same journey the Lord has not failed to help us; he has brought about attitudes of love, understanding and peace, and a sincere desire for reconciliation and unity. As believers, we know that man lives by everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord. We also know that peace takes root in the hearts of all who open themselves to God. Remembering the Second World War and the subsequent post-war decades cannot fail to evoke in Christians the desire for a new heart, capable of respecting man and of promoting his true dignity.

This is the basis of true hope for peace in the world. As Zechariah prophesied: "The day shall dawn upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Lk 1:78-79). In this Easter season, which celebrates Christ's victory over sin, the source of division, grief and injustice, let us repeat the prayer with which my venerable Predecessor Pope John XXIII closed his Encyclical Letter Pacem in terris: "May the Lord enlighten the minds of rulers, so that, besides caring for the proper material welfare of their peoples, they may also guarantee them the great gift of peace. Finally, may Christ inflame the desires of all to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong. Through his power and inspiration may all peoples become as brothers, and may the peace they long for ever flourish and ever reign among them".

May Mary, the Mediatrix of grace, ever watchful and concerned for all her children, obtain for all humanity the precious gift of harmony and peace.

 

4) Homily at a Mass Celebrated at Senne Military Airport, Paderborn, Germany (22 June 1996); L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 3 July 1996, pp. 3, 9.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

3. ... Our own century too has a rich martyrology (cf. Apostolic Letter Tertio millenio adveniente, n. 37). Let us make sure that all these testimonies of true greatness of spirit and holiness are not forgotten.

A martyrology is not just a record of facts. It is an exhortation. Martyrdom in our century too is an exhortation. Was not the work of the Second Vatican Council a result of this? And the World Day of Prayer for Peace? And the many apostolic initiatives, such as the World Youth Days?

Through martyrdom, which represents the experiences of our century, the Church has gained a better understanding of herself and of her duty to the world....

6. Dear brothers and sisters the "one hope" and the "unity of the Spirit" unite us in the Catholic, that is, universal Church. In this place of great importance for ecumenism, not the least because of the commitment of the memorable Cardinal Jaeger, I again call all Christians to unity! Especially in view of the Holy Year 2000, the Church prays insistently to the Holy Spirit, beseeching him for the grace of the unity of all Christians (cf. Tertio millennio adveniente, n. 34)....

7. Dear brothers and sisters, 1989 radically changed the world. The one world is simultaneously increasing in speed and growing smaller. We should welcome this process, because it offers countless persons new prospects in life. But this joint growth of the North, South, East and West must assume a form that is worthy of man. It must not give birth to a world that might again be characterized as a "radically capitalist ideology" (Centesimus annus, n. 42). The world hopes for a relationship between nations and States that respects the basic rights of all men and that fosters their development. For the rich countries especially this means learning to share, and not just helping peoples in need, but also welcoming them and accepting them as partners. This inevitable transformation must and can be achieved through solidarity and justice....

8. ...The same holds for the unity of Europe, which cannot depend solely on a commonality of material interests. It is based on agreement regarding fundamental goals and moral concepts, on a common cultural heritage and, last but not least, on solidarity of mind and heart. Without the Christian faith Europe would have no soul. We Christians are called to foster the spirit which will unite and shape the Europe of the future. This is a great challenge and a great responsibility, which we seriously wish to and must assume above and beyond borders....

 

5) Sunday Angelus, Berlin (23 June 1996): L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 26 June 1996, p. 3.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. At the close of this liturgy I would like to thank you cordially once again for this impressive celebration of the beatification of Karl Leisner and Bernhard Lichtenberg. The history and symbolic nature of this city invite us to be aware of the responsibility which they and we have, whether opportune or inopportune. We must courageously call right and wrong, justice and injustice, humaneness and inhumaneness by name and openly and decisively stand up for freedom, solidarity and human dignity.

2. From this famous city, which in a very special way has experienced the fate of European history in this century, I would like to announce to the whole Church my intention to convoke a Second Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops. Together with similar Synod assemblies in other parts of the world, it is to support preparations for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 (cf. Tertio millennio adveniente, n. 38).

Following the well-known events of 1989 and the new conditions after the fall of the wall which had been built in this very city, it appeared that a reflection on the part of representatives of the continent's Episcopal Conferences was necessary. This task was carried out by the Special Assembly in 1991. Further developments in the succeeding five years in Europe suggested a new meeting with representatives of the European Bishops for the purpose of a thorough examination of the situation of the Church in view of the coming Jubilee. This must be done in such a way that the immense spiritual reserves of this continent can fully develop in all areas, and conditions can be created for an era of true rebirth at the religious, economic and social levels. This will be the result of a new proclamation of the Gospel.

3. I invite everyone, from this moment on, to ask for the heavenly intercession of the patrons of Europe, St Benedict and the brother saints, Cyril and Methodius. Starting from their respective Western and Eastern traditions they will be able to make a fundamental contribution to the cultural and spiritual unity of this continent.

We would like also to entrust the coming Synod assembly to all the saints and blesseds of the old continent, and in a special way to the motherly protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who enjoys such great devotion among all the peoples of Europe. May she, who by her "fiat" was the first to receive the incarnate Word and gave him to all humanity, accompany and support our journey to its historic goal of the beginning of the third Christian millennium.

 

6) Sunday Regina Caeli, Sarajevo (13 April 1997); L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 16 April 1997, p. 4.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. At the end of this solemn concelebration, while throughout the world in accordance with an ancient and beautiful tradition a hymn of praise is raised to the Mother of God with the Regina Caeli, my thoughts turn in prayer to the entire region in which there live, together with other peoples, the Southern Slavs. A significant trait links the Christians of these lands: their profound devotion and great love for the Mother of God.

With intense gratitude to God I remember the visits that I have been able to make to Albania, in April 1993, to Croatia, in September 1994, and to Slovenia, in May of last year. As my stay in Sarajevo and in Bosnia-Hercegovina draws to a close, I wish to send a cordial greeting to the people of the neighbouring Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, whom I long to visit and whom I accompany in solidarity, and in prayer, in their difficulties and their hopes. My good wishes go also to the people of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, upon whom I invoke from the Lord peace and prosperity.

2. As in every other part of the world, so too in this region the Holy See promotes respect of the equal dignity of peoples and of their right to choose freely their own future. At the same time, the Holy See works to safeguard every possible occasion of mutual solidarity in a climate of peaceful civil coexistence.

This requires the courage of far-sightedness and the patience of small steps, in order that the spirit of frank and constructive understanding may flourish until it bears abundant fruit. A climate of peace and mutual respect is the only way to combat most effectively unbridled nationalism, the cause of so much sorrow and so much past and present destruction.

These lands, in which East and West have most intensely experienced the difficulty of dialogue and mutual co-operation, have become the symbol of our century filled with bitterness but also rich with promise for the whole of Europe.

3. From Sarajevo, the city symbolizing this 20th century as it draws to a close, may all the peoples of Europe hear the call for a united commitment on the path to peace! May the new millennium now at our doorstep open with a determined resolve to build an era of social growth in harmony, with the contribution of the particular gifts with which each nation, in the course of its history, has been enriched by God, the Lord and Father of all peoples!

This is the heartfelt hope which along with you I confidently entrust to Mary, Queen of Peace, invoking her with the traditional prayer of the Easter season.

 

7) Homily at the Liturgy Commemorating the Millennium of the Martyrdom of St Adalbert (3 June 1997); L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 11 June 1997, pp. 1, 4.

1. Veni, Creator Spiritus! Today we are at the tomb of St Adalbert in Gniezno. We are thus at the centre of the Millennium of Adalbert. A month ago I began this journey in honour of St Adalbert in Prague and in Libice, in the Diocese of Hradec Kralove, whence he came. And today we are in Gniezno, at the place it can be said where he ended his earthly pilgrimage. I give thanks to the Triune God that at the end of this Millennium I have been granted the opportunity to pray once again before the relics of St Adalbert, which are one of our greatest national treasures.

We are here to follow the spiritual journey of St Adalbert, which in a sense begins in the Upper Room. Today's liturgy leads us precisely to the Upper Room, to which the Apostles returned from the Mount of Olives after Christ's Ascension into heaven. For 40 days after the Resurrection he appeared to them and spoke to them about the kingdom of heaven. He told them not to leave Jerusalem but to await the promise of the Father: "which, he said, 'you heard from me. John baptized with water, but before many days ... you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth'" (Acts 1: 4, 8).

The Apostles thus receive the missionary mandate. By virtue of the words of the risen Lord they must go into all the world to teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (cf. Mt 28:14-20). But for now they return to the Upper Room and remain in prayer, awaiting the fulfilment of the promise. On the 10th day, the feast of Pentecost, Christ sent them the Holy Spirit, who transformed their hearts. They were made strong and ready to assume the missionary mandate. And so they began the work of evangelization.

The Church continues this work. The successors of the Apostles continue to go forth into all the world to make disciples of all nations. Towards the end of the first millennium, there first set foot on Polish soil the sons of various nations which had already become Christian, especially the nations bordering Poland. Among them a central place belongs to St Adalbert, who came to Poland from neighbouring and closely-related Bohemia. He was at the origin, in a certain sense, of the Church's second beginning in the lands of the Piasts. The baptism of the nation in 966, at the time of Mieszko I, was confirmed by the blood of the martyr. And not only this: with him Poland became part of the family of European countries. Before the relics of St Adalbert, the Emperor Otto III and Boleslaw the Brave met in the presence of a legate of the Pope. This meeting was of great historical significance the Congress of Gniezno. Obviously it had political significance, but ecclesial significance as well. At the tomb of St Adalbert, the first Polish metropolitan see was announced by Pope Silvester II: Gniezno, to which the episcopal sees of Krakow, Wroclaw and Kolobrzeg were joined.

2. The seed which dies bears much fruit (cf. Jn 12:24). These words of the Gospel of John, spoken one day by Christ to the Apostles, are singularly applicable to Adalbert. By his death, he bore the supreme witness. "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (Jn 12:25). St Adalbert also bore witness to the apostolic service. For Christ says: "If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if anyone serves me, the Father will honour him" (Jn 12:26). Adalbert followed Christ. He made a long journey which took him from his native Libice to Prague, and from Prague to Rome. Then, after facing resistance from his fellow countrymen in Prague, he left as a missionary for the Pannonian Plain and from there, through the Moravian Gate to Gniezno and the Baltic. His mission in a sense was the crowning point of the evangelization of the lands of the Piasts. And this was precisely because Adalbert bore witness to Christ by undergoing a martyr's death. Boleslaw the Brave ransomed the body of the martyr and had it brought here, to Gniezno.

In him the words of Christ were fulfilled. Above love of earthly life Adalbert had placed love of the Son of God. He followed Christ as a faithful and generous servant, bearing witness to him at the cost of his own life. And the Father honoured him indeed. The People of God surrounded him on earth with the veneration reserved to a saint, in the conviction that a martyr of Christ in heaven is surrounded with glory by the Father.

"The grain of wheat which dies, bears much fruit" (cf. Jn 12:24). How literally were these words fulfilled in the life and death of St Adalbert! His death by martyrdom, mingled with the blood of other Polish martyrs, is at the foundation of the Polish Church and the Polish State itself in the lands of the Piasts. The shedding of the blood of Adalbert continues to bear ever fresh spiritual fruit. All Poland, from its origins as a State and throughout the centuries that followed, has continued to draw upon it. The Congress of Gniezno opened to Poland the path of unity with the whole family of the states of Europe. On the threshold of the second millennium the Polish nation acquired the right to take part, on a par with other nations, in the formation of a new face of Europe. St Adalbert is thus a great patron of our continent, then in the process of unification in the name of Christ. Both by his life and his death, the holy martyr laid the foundations of Europe's identity and unity. Many times have I walked in these historic footsteps, at the time of the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland, coming from Krakow to Gniezno with the relics of St Stanislaus, and I thank divine Providence that today I am able to make this journey once more.

We thank you, St Adalbert, for having brought us together today here in such great numbers. Among us are distinguished guests. I think first of the Presidents of the countries linked to the person of Vojtech-Adalbert. For their presence here I thank President Kwasniewski of Poland, President Havel of the Czech Republic, President Brazauskas of Lithuania, President Herzog of Germany, President Kovac of the Slovak Republic, President Kuczma of Ukraine, and President Goncz of Hungary.

Your Excellencies: your presence here in Gniezno today has a particular significance for the whole continent of Europe. As was the case 1,000 years ago, so too today, such a presence testifies to the desire for peaceful coexistence and the building of a new Europe, united by bonds of solidarity. I ask you kindly to convey my cordial greetings to the nations which you represent.

I express my gratitude also to the Cardinals who have come from the Eternal City, beginning with the Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, and the Cardinals of the countries linked to the figure of St Adalbert, led by Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, the successor of St Adalbert in the episcopal see of Prague. I am pleased that among us are Cardinals from distant parts of the world, from America to Australia. I cordially greet and thank for their presence the Polish Cardinals, with the Cardinal Primate at their head, and the Archbishops and Bishops. I thank also the Orthodox Bishops and the heads of the Communities of the Reformation, as well as the leaders of other Ecclesial Communities. I address a cordial word of greeting to Archbishop Muzynski, Metropolitan of Gniezno, and to you, dear brothers and sisters, who have come from all over Poland for this meeting.

3. Deeply impressed upon my memory is the meeting in Gniezno in June 1979, when, for the first time, the Pope, a native of Krakow, was able to celebrate the Eucharist on the Hill of Lech, in the presence of the unforgettable Primate of the Millennium, the whole Polish Episcopate and many pilgrims not only from Poland but also from the neighbouring countries. Today, 18 years later, we should return to that homily in Gniezno, which in a certain sense became the programme of my pontificate. But first of all it was a humble reading of God's plans, linked with the final 25 years of our millennium. I said then: "Is it not Christ's will, is it not what the Holy Spirit disposes, that this Polish Pope, this Slav Pope, should at this precise moment manifest the spiritual unity of Christian Europe? We know that the Christian unity of Europe is made up of two great traditions, of the West and of the East.... Yes, it is Christ's will, it is what the Holy Spirit disposes, that what I am saying should be said in this very place and at this moment in Gniezno" (Homily at the Cathedral of Gniezno, 3 June 1979).

From this place there flowed forth at that time the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. Here reflection on the new evangelization began to take shape in concrete terms. In the meantime great transformations took place, new possibilities arose, other people appeared on the scene. The wall which divided Europe collapsed. Fifty years after the Second World War began, its effects ceased to ravage the face of our continent. A half century of separation ended, for which millions of people living in Central and Eastern Europe had paid a terrible price. And so here, at the tomb of St Adalbert, today I give thanks to almighty God for the great gift of freedom granted to the nations of Europe, and I do so in the words of the Psalmist: "Then they said among the nations, 'The Lord has done great things for them. The Lord has done great things for us; and we are glad'" (Ps 126: 2-3).

4. Dear brothers and sisters, after so many years I repeat the same message: a new openness is needed. For we have seen, at times in a very painful way, that the recovery of the right to self-determination and the growth of political and economic freedom is not sufficient to rebuild European unity. How can we not mention here the tragedy of the nations of the former Yugoslavia, the drama experienced by the Albanian people and the enormous burdens felt by all the societies which have regained their freedom and with great effort are liberating themselves from the yoke of the communist totalitarian system?

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. 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. This does not signify a desire to appropriate history. For the history of Europe is a great river into which many tributaries flow, and the variety of traditions and cultures which shape it is its great treasure. The foundations of the identity of Europe are built on Christianity. And its present lack of spiritual unity arises principally from the crisis of this Christian self-awareness.

5. Brothers and sisters, it was Jesus Christ, "the same yesterday and today and for ever" (cf Heb 13:8) who revealed to man his dignity! He is the guarantee of this dignity! It was the patrons of Europe St Benedict and Sts Cyril and Methodius who grafted on to European culture the truth about God and about man. It was the ranks of missionary saints, recalled to us today by St Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr, who brought to the peoples of Europe the teaching about love of neighbour, even love of enemies a "teaching confirmed by the gift of their lives for the sake of others. This Good News, the Gospel, has sustained our brothers and sisters in Europe over the course of the centuries, down to the present day. This message was repeated by the walls of churches, abbeys, hospitals and universities. It was proclaimed by books, sculpture and painting, by poetry and musical compositions. Upon the Gospel were laid the foundations of Europe's spiritual unity.

From the tomb of St Adalbert, then, I ask: are we allowed to reject the law of Christian life, which states that abundant fruit is borne only by those who offer their lives for the love of God and of their brothers and sisters, like a seed cast upon the ground? Here, from this place I repeat the cry which I made at the beginning of my pontificate: Open the doors to Christ! In the name of respect for human rights, in the name of liberty, equality and fraternity, in the name of solidarity among mankind and in the name of love, I cry out: Do not be afraid! Open the doors to Christ! Without Christ it is impossible to understand man. For this reason, 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. For without Christ it is impossible to build lasting unity. It cannot be done by separating oneself from the roots from which the nations and cultures of Europe have grown, and from the great wealth of the spiritual culture of past centuries. How can a "common house" for all of Europe be built, if it is not built with the bricks of men's consciences, baked in the fire of the Gospel, united by the bond of a fraternal social love, the fruit of the love of God? This was the reality for which St Adalbert strove, and for this future he gave his life. He reminds us today that a new society cannot be built without a renewed humanity, which is society's firmest foundation.

6. On the threshold of the third millennium the witness of St Adalbert is ever present in the Church and constantly bearing fruit. We need to take up with fresh vigour his work of evangelization. Let us help those who have forgotten Christ and his teaching to discover him anew. This will happen when ranks of faithful witnesses to the Gospel begin once more to traverse our continent; when works of architecture, literature and art show in a convincing way to the people of our time the One who is "the same yesterday and today and for ever"; when in the Church's celebration of the liturgy people see how beautiful it is to give glory to God; when they discern in our lives a witness of Christian mercy, heroic love and holiness.

Dear brothers and sisters, what an extraordinary hour of history we have been granted to live in! What important tasks Christ has entrusted to us! He is calling each of us to prepare the new springtime of the Church. He wishes the Church ever the same from the time of the Apostles and of St Adalbert to enter the new millennium full of freshness, overflowing with new life and evangelical zeal. In 1949 the Primate of the Millennium exclaimed: "Here, at the tomb of St Adalbert, we will light torches which will proclaim to our land the 'light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people' (Lk 2:32)" (Pastoral Letter upon Entering the See). Today we raise this cry anew, imploring the light and fire of the Holy Spirit to kindle our torches and make us heralds of the Gospel to the farthest limits of the earth.

7. St Adalbert is always with us. He has remained in Gniezno of the Piasts and in the universal Church, surrounded by the glory of martyrdom. And from the perspective of the millennium he seems to speak to us today with the words of St Paul: "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponent" (Phil 1:27-28). Yes, in one spirit, striving side by side for the faith.

Today we re-read once more, after 1,000 years, this testament of Paul and Adalbert. We ask that their words may be fulfilled in our own generation too. For in Christ we have been granted the grace not only to believe in him but also to suffer for his sake, since we too have sustained the conflict of which Adalbert has left us his witness (cf. Phil 1:29-30).

We entrust ourselves to St Adalbert, asking him to intercede for us, as the Church and Europe prepare for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

And we invoke the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and fortitude:
Veni, Creator Spiritus! Amen.

8) Sunday Angelus (15 February 1998); L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 18 February 1998, p. 1.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. Yesterday we celebrated the feast of Sts Cyril and Methodius. These two ninth-century Greek brothers from Thessalonika, formed at the school of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, were dedicated to the evangelization of the peoples of Greater Moravia in the middle Danube region.

Cyril and Methodius carried out their missionary service in union with the Church of Constantinople and with the See of Peter's Successor, thereby showing the unity of the Church which at that time had not yet been wounded by the division between East and West.

I would like to entrust to the intercession of these two saints the longing for full unity among all believers in Christ especially in view of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. The need to make every possible effort to continue the ecumenical dialogue was strongly emphasized at the meeting a few days ago of the Central Committee for the Jubilee with the delegates of the Episcopal Conferences. May God hasten our steps towards complete reconciliation, so that the dawn of the third millennium can see Christians, if not fully united, at least closer to this goal.

2. The feast of Sts Cyril and Methodius also gives me the opportunity to remind Christians and all people of goodwill on our continent of what we could call the European challenge, that is, the need to build a Europe which is deeply mindful of its own history, seriously committed to seeing that human rights are put into practice, united with the peoples on the other continents in promoting peace and development on a global scale.

However these lofty objectives cannot be pursued without a deep and constant spiritual motivation, which the citizens and nations of Europe can draw from the rich cultural heritage they share, in fruitful dialogue with other great currents of thought, as they have always done during the best moments of their 2,000-year-old civilization.

Therefore, celebrating these eminent apostles of Europe means renewing our commitment to the new evangelization of the continent, so that, in the historical transition from the second to the third millennium, its Christian roots will receive new nourishment for the benefit of all European peoples, their culture and their peaceful coexistence.

3. Through the intercession of Mary most holy, as deeply beloved and venerated in the East as in the West, may today's Christians harmoniously co-operate in the new evangelization and may all the nations of Europe come together in a common house, each making its own contribution and putting it at the service of all.

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