Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

Jesus Christ Alive in His Church - the Source of Hope for Europe

by Synod of Bishops for Europe

Descriptive Title

Lineamenta for the Church in Europe


Lineamenta issued by the Synod of European Bishops in preparation for the Second Special Assembly for Europe.

Larger Work

L'Osservatore Romano

Publisher & Date

Vatican, April 8, 1998



Jesus Christ Alive in His Church

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 Europe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Secretary


1. The Lord Jesus, before returning to the Father, promised to abide always with the Eleven and to sustain them in their mission (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 24:31). The revelation at Emmaus was the first new evangelization, the work of the Lord Jesus, the Master from the very beginning, now risen to his perennial mission as Saviour sent by the Father.

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

Such a new revelation, a new evangelization, will re-awaken 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—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, 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 in their journey to the kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly and intimately linked with mankind and its history".1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the Synod movement proceeds in a spirit of anticipation towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Holy Father awaits a "new spring of the Christian life" in that Christ's followers might be docile to the action of the Holy Spirit, the principal agent of the new evangelization.8

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

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

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


Europe towards the Third Millennium

Discerning the Spirits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contradictory Signs and Delusions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examination of Conscience

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

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

Intolerance and the use of violence in service of the truth,14 often an expression of a certain nationalism which uses the faith for its own purposes, are areas to be considered attentively by the Church so that they might never overshadow her testimony. Reflection on the importance of respect for religious freedom in the present world would also be a topic. 15

A further source of concern is the lack of a clear condemnation of the grave injustices existent in the social and economic order16 as well as the difficulty in the formation of conscience of adopting a catechesis directed to applying the values of the faith to practical situations in a person's everyday life.

Part II

The Living Jesus Christ in the Church


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 re-established. 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 holiness".24

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

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

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

Ecumenism and Mission

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

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

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


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 I Tm 2:5) of grace and every perfect gift which comes from above (cf Jas 1: 17); he is to salvation every person under heaven.

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

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

The Demand for Spirituality

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The history of the formation of the European nations runs parallel with their evangelization, to the point that the European frontiers coincided with those of the inroads of the Gospel. After 20 centuries of history, notwithstanding the bloody conflicts which have set the peoples of Europe in opposition to one another, and in spite of the spiritual crises which have marked the life of the continent—even to the point of raising serious questions in our own time about its future destiny—it can be said that the European identity is not understandable without Christianity, and that precisely in Christianity are found those common roots by which the continent has seen its civilization mature: its culture, its dynamism, its activity, its capacity for constructive expansion in other continents as well; in a word, an 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 freedom.35

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Europe also displays another particular feature: specific change has come 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. Lk 17:10).

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

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

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

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


Theological Hope

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

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

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

"Surrexit Christus spes mea" is the Church's song in the liturgical sequence of Easter. The Lord's resurrection is full of faith, because if Christ is not risen our faith is vain (cf. I Cor 15:14.17); at the same time, he is the basis for hope (cf. I 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. I 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. I 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 Church41 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 I Pt 1: 12; Rv 4:6.8; 5:6ff.) and all people (cf. Acts 1: 11) are turned in contemplation and expectation of mercy (cf. Ps 123:2).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29 Ibid.

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

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

32 John Paul II, Discourse to the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe, 19 December 1978, n. 2: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, I 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, 1.

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

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

37 Ibid.

38 Ibid.

39 Ibid.

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

41 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2090.

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

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

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