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Europe Beloved and alerted

· Benedict XVI has shown the old continent the way to escape the crisis ·

“Unfortunately, from a demographic point of view, one must note that Europe seems to be following a path that could lead to its departure from history”: this was the serious warning from Benedict XVI in an address to the participants of the convention organized by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) for the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome (24 March 2007). The Pope's immediate reference regarded the demographic crisis on the old continent, but the speech, beginning with this emblematic fact, included the different aspects of today's European events. These words give evidence of the preoccupation concerning the culture crisis of our continent: Europe, with the weakening of its cultural and religious identity, runs the risk of reducing the person to one dimension – the horizontal. It is as if Europe's history during the last century had taught today's Europeans nothing, as if the tragic experiences had not shown that man loses his orientation and takes inhumane steps when he is closed in on himself and blots out God from his view. Together with preoccupation for the future of a Europe in which there is an ever increasing tendency to relegate God to the private sphere and to consider him irrelevant and superfluous, Benedict's confidence in Europe has always stood out. In fact, he “gave hope back to a Europe in crisis”, as the French psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva affirmed in “Avvenire” on 13 February. There are various European intellectuals who value the important contributions of Benedict XVI for the sake of Europe. Yet one must recognize that many scholars have not appreciated his teaching. Some intellectuals have often welcomed – if not aided and accentuated – the attacks from the media, which were prepared to create examples of polemics and mocking, by partial quotes and titles fabricated on a whim. When the controversy gives way to considered thought, it will be possible to comprehend more deeply the reach of the thought of Joseph Ratzinger, a European intellectual who has loved and still loves the old continent. As theologian and Pope, he offered to his Europe the great vision whereby it can think for itself and clarify its identity in order to conduct its mission, today and in the future.

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