VATICAN CITY (CNS): The future of Europe cannot rest solely on political and economic unity; the continent must also undergo an ethical and spiritual renewal if it is to avoid repeating its past mistakes, Pope Benedict XVI said.
A crucial source for that renewal can be found in St Benedict, the patron saint of Europe, who is still the best teacher to show people “the art of living true humanism”, he said.
The Pope spoke about St Benedict, the fifth-century father of Western monasticism and “patron saint of my pontificate”, during his April 9 general audience in St Peter’s Square.
The Pope referred to St Pope Gregory the Great’s writings about St Benedict in describing the life and contributions of this Italian saint who lived from 480 to 547.
He said St Gregory wrote the book “The Dialogues” during a time when Europe was experiencing a “tremendous crisis of values” and turmoil caused by “the fall of the Roman Empire, the invasion of new peoples” and traditional customs sinking into decadence.
The sixth-century pope believed that St Benedict was “a shining star” whose life, example and rule could light the way out of such dark times in history, the Pope said.
St Benedict’s legacy created a new kind of unity based on Christian spirituality and culture which the whole continent shared, and in this way “the reality of what we call Europe was born”, the Pope said.
Today, Europe again is searching for a new kind of unity and identity after emerging from two tragic world wars and the aftermath of “great ideologies revealed as tragic utopias”, the Pope said.