VATICAN CITY, Reuters
Pope Benedict, speaking as the European Union marked its 50th anniversary without a mention of its religious heritage, said a society that lacks a Christian conscience will end up bankrupt.
The Pope’s comments came a day after he lambasted the European Union for not mentioning God and Europe’s Christian roots in declarations marking its founding.
“A society in which the Christian conscience does not live anymore loses direction, does not know anymore where to go, ends up empty and bankrupt,” the Pope told parish elders on Sunday.
A Christian conscience was needed to promote justice and a sense of responsibility among one another, he said.
The remarks came as the European Union celebrated its 50th birthday in a ceremony in Berlin that included unveiling a broad, aspirational “Berlin Declaration” that left out mention of religion or the continent’s Christian roots.
The Pope, like his predecessor John Paul, often calls for including God and Christianity in the European Constitution.
He has found support from EU leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel — who unveiled Sunday’s declaration — as well as Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi.
In a strongly worded speech on Saturday, the Pope said excluding values that helped forge its very soul meant Europe was committing a form of apostasy — a total desertion of one’s religion — and doubting its own identity.