European Union Won´t Hurt Poland´s Identity, Cardinal Says

Primate Glemp Urges Countrymen to Be Fearless

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WARSAW, Poland, DEC. 18, 2001 ( As Poland debates over its national identity and adherence to the European Union, the nation´s primate has simple advice: Be not afraid.

Cardinal Jozef Glemp commented on the issue following a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, with Gunter Verheugen, commissar responsible for the extension of the European Union.

Referring to many Poles´ fears about the country´s entrance into the Union, the cardinal emphasized that the spiritual and cultural identity of the nation is not at risk.

«We have nothing to fear; Poland is one of the country´s with the strongest national identity, given its Christian tradition,» Cardinal Glemp said. «By entering the European Union we lose the zloty [Polish currency] but certainly not our identity. Moreover, new important challenges will open up for the Church in the area of the apostolate.»

«Commissar Verheugen stressed the importance of the Church´s role in the construction of Europe, and encouraged Poland to speed up the time of the negotiations in progress, so that it can become a member of the European Union in 2004,» the Polish primate disclosed.

The archbishop of Warsaw said Poles should not give in to the temptation to be closed in on themselves.

«Some time ago I was the guest of a parish priest who all of a sudden closed the shutters of his house and said to me: ´Let´s not look upon this world anymore because it is inhabited only by pagans,´» the cardinal recalled.

«This is a position that cannot be shared,» he said. «Let´s look at the example of the apostles: The world ruled by the Romans was in a deplorable moral state, but they did not turn their back on anyone. So also today: We must address this laicized and secularized Europe. This is the mission of the Church.»

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