The whole of Europe is filled with soaring joyful spirits after the entry of 10 new nations to the European Union (EU) on 1st May. Europe has long been challenged by the conflicts between Christians and growing Muslims, division between Christian denominations, and cultural difference. The enlargement of the European Union marked the end of a cool war between certain countries.
Still there are hidden worries in the relationship. Several hundred anti-globalisation protesters hurled missiles as they attempted to disturb the Welcome Day in Dublin. Also, the debate over religion pitted secular France against Catholic Ireland, Italy and Poland. Turkey, dominated with 70 million Muslims, accussed the EU of making a Christian Club because it is the only candidate country with which the EU has so far failed to start accession negotiations.
Christian teachings would be the ultimate recipe to make peace in Europe. The Pope hailed the new alliance on Sunday, and once again, he urged the EU to rediscover its Christian roots in order to reinforce peace in diversity. The EU is now blossoming with diverse culture and religions from 25 different countries across Europe.
The Pope explained how close the bond between Christianity and Europe is. "The history of the formation of the European nations goes hand in hand with that of evangelisation. Thus, despite the spiritual crises the continent suffers to this day, its identity would be incomprehensible without Christianity," said John Paul.
He addressed that to bring a lasting unity of European peoples, it should not only be economic or political in nature, the soul of Europe remains united even today because it refers to common human and Christian values.
Rediscovering the Christian heritage in Europe will not only benefit the harmony between European countries, but can also equip Europe to reach the stature needed for the great challenges of the third millennium: peace, dialogue between cultures and religions, the the safeguarding of creation.
In the wake of secularisation that threatens the perseverance of Christian roots, the Pope repeatedly persuades the drafters of a new EU constitution to insert Christianity in the document so as to resist the secular politicians. The move, however, has run up against opposition from secular countries such as France and Belgium.
Nevertheless, most Christian leaders are optimistic to the new entrants, expecting that the fresh blood can bring in a stronger Christian spirit within the EU as they all have stronger Christianity spirit than the original EU members. While people in the world are looking forward to seeing the new economy and politics, Christian leaders are very much focussed on the possible changing religious face in Europe.