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Thursday, April 28, 2005

The New York Times > International > International Special > Pope, Reviving Weekly Audience, Stresses Europe's Christian Roots

The New York Times > International > International Special > Pope, Reviving Weekly Audience, Stresses Europe's Christian RootsPope, Reviving Weekly Audience, Stresses Europe's Christian Roots
By IAN FISHER

VATICAN CITY, April 27 - The normal rhythms of the Vatican began returning Wednesday as Pope Benedict XVI held the traditional weekly papal audience, using the moment to express what may become a central theme of his papacy: the Christian roots of Europe.

Addressing thousands of pilgrims on a brilliant morning in St. Peter's Square, he explained that he had chosen the name Benedict for several reasons, among them the role that St. Benedict of Norcia in Italy, the sixth-century author of the monastic "Rule" that led to the founding of the Benedictine order, had on spreading Christianity in Europe. Benedict is one of the patron saints of Europe.

"He represents a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a strong reminder of the unrenounceable Christian roots of its culture and civilization," the pope said in Italian, one of at least six languages he used on Wednesday.

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, before he was chosen pope last week, he wrote often of his worries that Europe had forgotten its Christian roots and therefore was in danger of losing its identity and spiritual grounding. His choice, as a European cardinal and one who has focused on the Roman Catholic Church's decline in Europe, has led to speculation that he will push for a "re-evangelization" of an increasingly secular Europe, though he has not yet announced any specific plan for doing so.

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