Pope Benedict XVI has urged Europeans to defend their continent's religious and cultural heritage.
The pope told pilgrims Wednesday that all those who hold the future of Europe dear to their hearts should "rediscover, appreciate and defend the rich cultural and religious heritage" of past centuries.
Benedict has been urging Europeans to keep alive their Christian roots, saying that Christian values are fundamental for the survival of societies. How to reinvigorate the faith in an increasingly secular Europe is a central theme of Benedict's papacy.
The pontiff was speaking during his weekly general audience at the Vatican.
On Nov. 3, the Vatican denounced the European court of human rights for ruling that the display of crucifixes in Italian public schools violates religious and educational freedoms. The Vatican said the court was ignoring the role of Christianity in forming Europe's identity.