Pope expresses hope that Catholics and Orthodox re-evangelize Europe
By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY, May 1, 2006 (www.catholicnews.com) -- Pope Benedict XVI expressed hope that a landmark meeting between Catholic and Russian Orthodox representatives would result in the two churches working together to re-evangelize Europe.
In a message written by the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the pope sent his greetings to participants in a meeting organized by the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church's Moscow Patriarchate.
The Vatican released a copy of the message to journalists May 3.
The May 3-5 meeting in Vienna, Austria, was titled, "Give a Soul to Europe: The Mission and Responsibility of the Churches."
Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the pontifical councils for Culture and for Interreligious Dialogue, and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow generated the idea for the event, marking the first time a Vatican office and the Moscow Patriarchate jointly organized a meeting on culture in Europe.
The Vienna Archdiocese's Pro Oriente Foundation helped organize the gathering, which brought together dozens of Catholic and Russian Orthodox officials and experts. The Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation provided funding for the three-day, closed-door discussions.
The meeting outlined Christianity's challenges, including the threats of secularism, religious indifference and sects.
Participants were to look for ways the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches could work together to help Europe better cherish its Christian heritage and prompt Christians to infuse European policies and culture with ethical and moral values.
The papal message said that only by preserving and promoting Europe's Christian values, while respecting "the different spiritual traditions which enrich" Europe, could the continent turn a new page in history and experience wholesome development.