Pope Benedict XVI has given his support to a gathering of Europe’s main Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, saying he hoped it would help promote awareness of Europe’s spiritual roots. “Europe needs to rediscover its Christian roots, making room for ethical values that are part of its rich and well-established spiritual heritage,” Pope Benedict told church leaders attending the opening event in Rome for the Third European Ecumenical Assembly, which will culminate in Romania in September 2007. Still, the pontiff added at the meeting on Jan. 26, “Our presence as Christians will prove incisive and enlightening only if we have the courage to continue decisively down the path of reconciliation and unity.” Delegates to the assembly had joined Pope Benedict the day before for prayers to mark the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity being celebrated by churches around the world. The Rome gathering was organized by the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Council of European (Roman Catholic) Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE). The two groups account for almost all of Europe’s Anglican, Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. The four-day meeting ended on Jan. 27 with an appeal to Christians in Europe to “join this pilgrimage of hope” towards the gathering in Romania. “Our continent has taken great steps forward politically and culturally, and yet exploitation, oppression and violence are still enormous obstacles on our way,” delegates said in a statement.