(To be checked against delivered speech)

Speech by Archbishop Giovanni LAJOLO, Secretary for State Relations – Holy See

Warsaw, 16 May 2005

“It is my honour to convey to all present the cordial greetings of the new Pope, Benedict XVI, who in the choice of his name intended to recall one of the great architects of European civilisation. In some of his previous talks and publications he has proposed a number of considerations, both historical and doctrinal, on the subject of European unity and values, which remain relevant and worthy of attention.

This theme, to which the present session is dedicated, is something particularly important for the Holy See. Pius XII in his Christmas message of 1944 proposed to Europe a “true democracy founded on freedom and equality” (Acta Apostolicae Sedis 37 [1945] 14), and on 9 May 1945 he spoke of “a new Europe ... founded on respect for human dignity, for the sacred principle of equality of rights for all Peoples, all States, large or small, weak or strong” ( ibid, 129-130). Pope Paul VI dedicated keen and increasing attention to the same subject. And all are aware of the incessant, passionate and active commitment of Pope John Paul II to a Europe corresponding more fully to its geographical and especially to its historical identity. Here in his Polish home-land, I am particularly pleased to recall his great and lovable personality.

Europe will be loved by its citizens and will serve as an agent of peace and civilisation in the world only if it is animated by certain fundamental values:
a. the promotion of human dignity and fundamental human rights, among which in the first place freedom of conscience and religion;
b. the pursuit of the common good in a spirit of solidarity;
c. respect for national and cultural identity.

These values obviously are shared by all, however, if they are to take on a clear focus and not remain generic, they must refer to Europe’s own history because this is what constitutes Europe in its spiritual identity. For this reason the Holy See views with satisfaction the commitment expressed in the Preamble of the Declaration, paragraph 6, “to the common values and principles which are rooted in Europe’s cultural, religious and humanistic heritage”. The pre-eminent role that Christianity has played in forming and developing this cultural, religious and humanistic patrimony is well known to all and cannot be ignored.”