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A Clear Reflection

A reflection on the Europe of today came from Benedict XVI during a meeting with journalists who accompanied him to Croatia and upon his arrival in Zagreb, where he was respectfully and cordially welcomed by President Ivo Josipovic’. A reflection expressed in clear words on the importance of a small nation’s integration into Europe; a nation which has deep Christian roots and an ancient relationship with the Roman See, dating at least thirteen centuries.

On a continent which has been devastated by wars and unspeakable violence in the twentieth century, but which in the last decades has developed unitary structures, first economic and then political, it is urgent that the path towards unity is sustained and enriched on a cultural and spiritual level. In welcoming new nations – such as Croatia, twenty years after independence – Europe must know how to integrate accepting a beneficial diversity.

The contribution which Croatia can bring to the Continent is precisely that which is rooted in Christian humanism and in the strength of a historicity able to place itself in opposition to abstract rationalism. In the Pope’s vision, this is the antidote to the skepticism created by the bureaucratic face of the European Union. This skepticism causes many citizens to keep their distance from a real unitary construction, but unity is important also because it is an example to the rest of the world.

Faced with contemporary challenges – especially the disorientation of  life without obligations, the spirit of our times ( Zeitgeist ) – Catholic tradition “which can transform the world,” counts in Croatia with its history of overcoming obstacles and conflicts, recent and ancient. A sentiment that was expressed both in the President’s welcoming address and especially in the words of Benedict XVI in friendship and closeness to this nation, which considers itself more Mitteleuropean than Balkan.

In the memory of Christians such as Cardinal Franjo Seper, Joseph Ratzinger’s predecessor at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and especially such as the Blessed Aloizije Stepinace, heroic witness of Christian faith against the dictatorships of the ustashe and the communists, and defender and protector - despite the stereotypes which were fruit of totalitarian propaganda – of persecuted gypsies, Jews and Orthodox. An example for Europe of today.

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St. Peter’s Square

Oct. 23, 2019

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