On the site of one of the great mysteries of the Roman Catholic church, Pope John Paul II Monday urged Europeans from east and west to build a new society devoid of materialism on the ashes of atheism.
Now that the Catholic church has been freed from the repression of former communist regimes in Eastern Europe, he said, it must build new societies free of the greed that sometimes comes with capitalism.The 70-year-old pope also thanked the Virgin of Fatima for saving his life from the bullet of a Turkish gunman on the 10th anniversary of a failed assassination attempt on his life.
The pope was joined in prayer Monday by nearly 1 million pilgrims at the Portuguese sanctuary of Fatima, where three shepherd children had a vision of the Virgin Mary 74 years ago Monday.
He met privately with Lucia Dos Santos, 84, a Carmelite nun and the last survivor of the group, who said they had the first of a series of visions above an oak tree in Fatima on May 13, 1917, a few months before the Bolshevik Revolution.
The pope chose Fatima as the place to sign a formal letter to bishops of eastern and western Europe inviting them to prepare for an extraordinary synod at the Vatican on Nov. 28 on the situation of the church across Europe.