Marking fall of Berlin Wall, European bishops warn of crisis in values


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PARIS (CNS) -- Europe's Catholic bishops have commemorated the end of their continent's East-West division while also warning that it now faces a crisis of values. "Twenty years ago, we witnessed a great moment: the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was a turning point that did not simply come out of the blue; it came as a result of determined and bold men who did not lack their own freedom," said the Swiss-based Council of European Bishops' Conferences, which represents about 1,200 bishops.

"We now see that the incredible European project, with a strong ethical basis, has greatly weakened," the council said.

"The very poor turnout in the latest European parliamentary elections was a telltale sign. The hopes placed on building Europe have not, so far, been fulfilled."

In a message at the close of the council's Oct. 1-4 assembly in Paris, the bishops said Catholics should remember "the many battles fought for solidarity and respect for human dignity" in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the "fundamental role" of Pope John Paul II in supporting "a Europe based on foundations of faith, the common good and peace."

They added that the November 1989 dismantling of the Berlin Wall had been "a great stepping stone in the European adventure," but said later developments in the European Union had been accompanied by developments that went "against the authentic good."