Pope Francis: Europe, find yourself!

Letter from the Holy Father for the 40th anniversary of COMECE

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Holy See, and the European Union and the 50th anniversary of the presence of the Holy See as Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe, Pope Francis entrusts a letter addressed to the Secretary of State, Card. Pietro Parolin, with some of his reflections on the future of Europe, “so dear to me, not only because of my family’s origins but also because of the central role that it has had, and, I believe, must continue to have, albeit with different accents, in the history of humanity”.

Starting with “the words of Pope Saint John Paul II pronounced in the European Act of Santiago de Compostela: Europe “find yourself, be yourself”, Pope Francis invites Europe not to stop and look back at its past as an album of memories but to rediscover its “most deeply-rooted ideals. Be yourself! Do not be afraid of your millenary history, which is a window open to the future more than the past. Do not be afraid of that thirst of yours for truth, which, from the days of ancient Greece, has spread throughout the world and brought to light the deepest questions of every human being. Do not be afraid of the thirst for justice that developed from Roman law and in time became respect for all human beings and their rights. Do not be afraid of your thirst for eternity, enriched by the encounter with the Judeo-Christian tradition reflected in your patrimony of faith, art and culture”.

And he added: “Today, as many in Europe look to its future with uncertainty, others look to Europe with hope, convinced that it still has something to offer to the world and to humanity. The same conviction inspired Robert Schuman, who realized that “the contribution which an organized and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations”. It is a conviction that we ourselves can share, setting out from shared values and rooted in the history and culture of this land”.

Then, he indicated the future he dreams of for Europe: “I dream, then, of a Europe that is a friend to each and all … a Europe that is a family and a community … inclusive and generous … I dream of a Europe marked by a healthy secularism, where God and Caesar remain distinct but not opposed. A land open to the transcendent, where believers are free to profess their faith in public and to put forward their points of view in society”. “What is to be its distinctive contribution?” – the Pope is asked – “In today’s world, it is not about recovering political hegemony or geographical centrality, or about developing innovative solutions to economic and social problems. The uniqueness of Europe rests above all on its conception of the human being and of reality, on its capacity for initiative and on its spirit of practical solidarity”.

Finally, the invitation to collaborate, “in a spirit of fraternal communion”, with the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) because “Christians today have a great responsibility: they are called to serve as a leaven in reviving Europe’s conscience and help to generate processes capable of awakening new energies in society. I urge them, therefore, to contribute with commitment, courage and determination to every sector in which they live and work”.

Attached please find the full text of the Letter from Pope Francis.

Photo: Pope Francis visiting the European Parliament in Strasbourg. From