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In Croatia, Pope warns: Europe without faith will collapse

Catholic World News - June 06, 2011

During a weekend visit to Croatia on June 4-5, Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly emphasized the Christian roots of European civilization, suggesting that Croatian entry into the European Union might help to combat the forces of secularization and rationalism that undermine European unity.

Pope Benedict also issued a resounding call for defense of family life, at a Mass celebrated for the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families. (See today’s separate CWN headline story.)

Arriving in Zagreb on Saturday, June 4, the Holy Father was welcomed by Croatian President Ivo Josipovic and by Cardinal Josip Bozanic of Zagreb and Archbishop Marin Srakic, the president of the Croatian bishops' conference. At the airport welcoming ceremony, the Pope immediately addressed the question of Croatia’s role in preserving the European identity. "From its earliest days your nation has formed part of Europe, and has contributed, in its unique way, to the spiritual and moral values that for centuries have shaped the daily lives and the personal and national identity of Europe's sons and daughters,” the Pope said. “In the face of the challenges posed by today's culture--marked as it is by social differentiation and instability, and by an individualism that gives rise to a vision of life without obligations and a constant search for 'private space'--there is a need for convinced witness and active dynamism aimed at promoting the fundamental moral values that underpin social living and the identity of the Old Continent.”

The Pontiff went on to voice his hope that Croatia would “help to steer the European Union toward a fuller appreciation of those spiritual and cultural treasures” that rise from Europe’s Christian heritage.

Later, in a meeting with Croatian civic and cultural leaders, the Pope returned to the question of European secularization, using strong language to warn that the attempt to make an absolute separation between religious and political affairs is a danger to Europe’s future. “If, in keeping with the prevailing modern idea, conscience is reduced to the subjective field to which religion and morality have been banished, then the crisis of the West has no remedy and Europe is destined to collapse in on itself,” the Pope warned.

Again, during a prayer vigil with young people, the Pope spoke about the importance of recognizing spiritual matters, noiting that “all too often we realize that we put our trust in things that cannot fulfil” our true desires. “At such moments we recognize our need for something greater, capable of giving meaning to our daily lives,” he said.

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