The spiritual leader of the Russia Orthodox Church has given an ominous warning to Europeans, urging them not to abandon Christianity or it risk being vanished from history.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II urged European nations to retain their Christian identity, claiming that the failure to do so would be akin to them signing their own death-warrant.
"Modern Europe will not create a new post-Christian culture and civilization but will simply vanish from history," Alexy said at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow Wednesday evening, according to the Interfax news agency.
"Losing their Christian roots, the people of Europe will sign their own death warrant," he added.
Religious groups, and notably the late Pope John Paul II, have lobbied European Union leaders to get a mention of Europe's Christian roots in the EU constitution. Poland, Italy and Germany have also backed such a move, but have been blocked by France, Belgium and others who fear such a measure could discriminate against other religions and on longstanding national laws on division of church and state.
Pope Benedict XVI, in September, told thousands of Catholics that Europe faces a bleak future unless more children are born on the continent and its people return to faith in God and traditional values.
"Where God is, there is the future," he said in an outdoor mass at an 850-year-old pilgrimage site in Austria.
More recently, the pope has strongly criticized atheism, saying it had led to some of the "greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice" ever known.