Pope Francis will celebrate World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland on July 31. It is a very symbolic and important event. Hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the globe, but especially from Europe, are expected to attend.
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Krakow was for centuries the capital of the Kingdom of Poland, which won renown as Christian Europe’s bulwark against the east (Antemurale Christianitatis) and played an important role in the continent’s stability.
Krakow was also the home of Pope Saint John Paul II, who was instrumental in defeating the inhuman Soviet communist system.
Christianity – with its principles of conscience, self-responsibility and love thy neighbor – has helped build the foundation of Europe’s success, because it allows individual freedom, the rule of law and separation of church and state. Totalitarian systems such as National Socialism and communism persecuted Christianity and the Catholic Church. Fortunately, they failed, even though persecutions continue in places like China and North Korea.
Strange as it seems, European institutions have become increasingly uncomfortable and even ill disposed toward their Christian heritage. The opposition to mentioning God in the European constitution was significant, even though the separation of religion and state has Christian roots. European societies are evolving in a direction that is increasingly non-Christian and multicultural.
Europe at the moment is more threatened by the loss of its roots than by external factors
Expediency and a spirit of entitlement have become all-important, but history shows that civilizations based on such principles disappear. Europe at the moment is more threatened by the loss of its roots than by external factors. In order to preserve European values, a robust Christian foundation is essential.
Pope Saint John Paul II loved everybody, but especially young people. He showed this both as pope and during his time as Archbishop of Krakow. Today young people are facing a world made increasingly dangerous by inhuman ideologies – including nationalism, communism, terrorism and pervasive materialism. All of these ideologies are based on a culture of envy. Some even dare to misuse religion as a way to inculcate their terrible goals.
It is to be hoped that young Christians, many of them now journeying to meet Pope Francis in Poland, will strive to reset and preserve the basis for a human world.