SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR EUROPE
Synod of Bishops
Jesus Christ Alive in His
The Source of Hope for Europe
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
The Living Jesus Christ in the Church
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 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.
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
"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
"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
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
"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,
Jesus Christ the Source of Hope
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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?
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
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
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.
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.
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,
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.