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03/2006: EPP-ED Study Days in Rome: Address by the Chairman, Hans-Gert Poettering MEP, at the presentation of the EPP-ED Group to the Holy Father His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

   Heiliger Vater, Holy Father!

Es ist für mich eine große Ehre, Ihnen heute meine Kolleginnen und Kollegen der Fraktion der Europäischen Volkspartei (Christdemokraten) und Europäischer Demokraten im Europäischen Parlament, deren Gäste und die Mitarbeiter des Fraktionssekretariates vorstellen zu dürfen.

It is a great honour to present to Your Holiness my colleagues in the Parliamentary Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats in the European Parliament, their guests and the staff of the Group Secretariat.

On behalf of the EPP-ED Group, I greet Your Holiness with great affection.

In our programme, the Group is committed to the dignity of the human being, the human person, the transcendent dimension being at the very heart of its work.

The Group fought for a reference to God in the European Constitution. Although we were not successful, we are proud of having done so. The final text does embody essential Christian values. Whatever the outcome, the EPP-ED Group, as an advocate of Judaeo-Christian values, is determined about the spiritual and moral dimension of the European project. Encouragement by your Holiness for this aim is vitally important for our Group! Europe is facing challenges, perhaps crisis, about which your Holiness spoke at Subiaco last year. But as Christians, hope and optimism are the basis of our work and activities.

In our Group, Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Orthodox, Muslims and Jews are united. The Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats is truly ecumenical.

The Group is determined to work on the religious dimension of Europe in addressing the crisis of culture, which affects all our peoples.

This determination was shown by the Group's successful initiative to obtain support from the European Union for the World Youth Days in Cologne in 2005.

Further, through annual dialogue with the Orthodox Church, the Group seeks healing in the Christian division of Europe.

Through initiatives with states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the Group aims for new relationships, for which Christians and Muslims can be privileged partners as believers.

We are joined by a guest from Arabia, a sign of the pioneering work which Muslim and Christian Democrats are doing for a God-centred, more ethical world order. We do not believe in the 'clash of civilisations', we believe in cooperation, understanding and partnership, if possible friendship, between cultures and religions.

For more than twenty five years, the Group has coordinated the Ecumenical Prayer Group in the European Parliament, open to Christians of all political families.

Now at the end of the Group's Study Days in Rome, I have the honour on their behalf to ask for your blessing on their lives and their labours for peace and prosperity in Europe, and for reaching out to peoples throughout the world, in solving the problems of life.

Heiliger Vater, wir danken Ihnen für die Gemeinschaft, die uns verbindet und bitten Gott um seinen Segen für Sie und uns alle für ein friedliches, demokratisches und ebenso starkes wie menschliches Europa.

Holy Father, we thank you for the spiritual community which unites us, and we ask the Lord for his blessing for you and all of us, for a peaceful and democratic Europe which is both strong and humane.

More information

For further information:
Katrin Ruhrmann
Tel: +32 475 493357