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Europe must not forget 'Christian roots': pope

19 October 2009, 20:32 CET
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(VATICAN CITY) - Pope Benedict XVI urged the European Union not to forget its "Christian roots" as he received the EU's new envoy to the Vatican on Monday.

European values are the product of a long history in which Christianity played a vital role, he said.

The European model of civilisation should not be allowed to dismantle itself piece by piece, the head of the Roman Catholic Church added.

"When the Church reminds Europe of its Christian roots, it is not looking for special status, (but instead) it is recalling the fact -- more and more overlooked -- that the founding fathers of the European Union were inspired by Christianity," he said.

If these Christian principles were forgotten, the pope said, there was a risk the European project could be exploited by individuals and pressure groups to pursue their own ends to the detriment of the collective good.

"It is important that Europe does not let its model of civilisation come apart piece by piece. The original enthusiasm must not be stifled by individualism or utilitarianism," he said.

The pope said the Church's wanted to help in the construction of the EU.

"This is why the Church reminds the EU of the essential founding values of European society - so they can be promoted for the good of all," he said.

The pope also said he was pleased at the "excellent relations" between the European Union and the Holy See.

Yves Gazzo took over as head of the European Commission Delegation to the Holy See on September 1.

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