An acquaintance in Rome tells us that the big topic of conversation over there right now is the Pope's speech last Saturday to a conference organized by the council of European bishops on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. I linked one translation on Sunday, but in case you missed it, here's Sandro Magister's account and analysis, which includes the full text:
Fifty years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which in 1957 brought into life what today is the European Union, Benedict XVI has formulated a very severe diagnosis of the status of the continent. He has even come to the point of stating that Europe is falling into a “remarkable form of apostasy.”
John Paul II also spoke of “apostasy,” in the sense of the abandonment of the faith, in the 2003 apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in Europa.” But Benedict XVI has gone even further. He has accused Europe of being ever more frequently an apostate “from itself, even before [being an apostate] from God”: to the point of “doubting its very identity.”
The pope formulated this diagnosis while receiving in the Vatican’s Sala Clementina on March 24 the cardinals, bishops, and politicians who were taking part in a conference organized in Rome by the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, COMECE, dedicated to the theme of “Values and perspectives for the Europe of tomorrow.”
Among the Catholic politicians who spoke at the conference were the president of the Italian council of ministers, Romano Prodi; the president of Ireland, Mary McAleese; and the president of the European parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering.
Meeting the pope in a private audience, Pöttering – a German who in recent years fought unsuccessfully for the insertion of a recognition of the Christian roots of Europe into the constitutional treaty of the Union – invited Benedict XVI to go to Strasbourg to speak before the plenary assembly of the European parliament, as John Paul II did on October 11, 1988.