John Paul II and Prodi Discuss Future of European Union

Emphasize Need for Appropriate Recognition of Churches

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2001 ( During a meeting today in the Vatican, John Paul II and Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, addressed the extension of the European Union and juridical recognition of the Church.

«The conversations centered on the priorities of the European Union, in particular, the process of the reformation of the Union´s treaties and its extension to new members,» Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls said in a statement.

The Pope has long defended the extension of the Union to include the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe, so that the continent might be able «to breathe with two lungs.»

«At the same time, the contribution that the Churches might offer Europe was emphasized, and the need for their appropriate juridical recognition in the Union´s legislation,» Navarro-Valls´ statement adds.

He explained that the Pope and Prodi referred to «the European Union´s commitment to the struggle against terrorism and the search for a just peace for the Middle East.»

Following the 30-minute private audience, Prodi met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, and with Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states.

Prodi, who was accompanied by Michel Barnier, European Commissar of Regional Policy and Institutional Reform, and other collaborators, gave the Pope a 16th-century Missal and said that «the Vatican Library does not have a copy.»

Prodi, a practicing Catholic, has known the Holy Father personally for 20 years and met with him on numerous occasions.

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