Europe at Crossroads on Issue of Life, Pope Says

Receives New Austrian Envoy to the Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 14, 2001 ( In today´s materialist and consumeristic society, Europe is at a crossroads, John Paul II warned today. «It can build a flowering garden or a quagmire of death,» he said.

The Pontiff vividly portrayed the historical moment of the Old World, when he received Walter Greinert, the new Austrian ambassador to the Vatican, who arrived to present his credentials.

John Paul II said that «Austria and the Holy See intend to pursue a deepening of their traditional collaboration, to bring this garden into bloom.»

This objective, the Pope said, will be reached only if the «culture of life» is fostered, as well as the dignity of the human being. «Man has a right to life in every phase of his existence, from conception to natural death, and in every condition: in health or sickness, with impediments, [whether] rich or poor,» the Holy Father said.

The legalization of «abortion in the first three months of pregnancy in Austria, as in many other European countries, remains a serious wound in my heart, as does the discussion of euthanasia.»

At the end of the meeting, the Pope appealed to Austria to give special attention to immigrants, refugees, the disabled, those who suffer, and those «who need sincere and fraternal help.» He also called for greater solidarity between rich and poor nations.

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