CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy – Pope John Paul II said Sunday that Europe is suffering a crisis in values and expressed hope that the addition of 10 more countries to the European Union next year would be an occasion for the continent’s renewal.
The pontiff in recent weeks has decried what he calls a movement away in Europe from its Christian roots.
“You can’t deny, that in these times of ours, Europe is going through a crisis in values, and it is important that it recovers its true identity,” John Paul told pilgrims and tourists in the courtyard of his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, a town on a hill near Rome.
“The process of European Union enlargement to other countries cannot deal only with geographical and economic aspects,” the pope said, “but must translate into a renewed harmony of values to be expressed in law and life.”
He urged prayers so that the continent “be always aware of its own spiritual vocation and contribute to building solidarity and peace within its own borders and in the entire world.”
Of the 10 nations scheduled to join the European Union next year, some, like Malta, Slovakia and the pope’s native Poland, are heavily Roman Catholic.
The Vatican has mounted a campaign to persuade EU leaders to include a reference to Christianity’s role in Europe in the Union’s new constitution, which is being prepared.