John Paul II Invited to Visit Poland Again

President´s Offer «Appreciated,» Says Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 28, 2002 ( Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski today officially invited John Paul II to visit his country this August.

The Holy Father «has very much appreciated» the invitation, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls said in a press statement. The invitation came during an audience at the Vatican. Last week Kwasniewski told Polish public radio of his plan to extend the invitation.

Navarro-Valls also reported that during the Polish president´s meeting with the Pope and, subsequently, with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, a review was made of «the situation of church-state relations in Poland.»

Special attention was given «to those topics that most concern the Church, such as life, the family and solidarity,» the statement continues. The review of relations was followed by an «exchange of opinions on the situation in Europe and the world,» Navarro-Valls continued.

The Holy Father´s meeting with the Polish president, a former Communist, lasted about a half-hour. Kwasniewski was accompanied by his wife and a 12-member entourage.

Kwasniewski is on a three-day official visit to Italy to request the latter´s support for his country´s entry into the European Union, an objective the Warsaw government hopes to achieve by 2004.

Kwasniewski, who has been president since 1995, was re-elected in October 2000. This was the Polish chief executive´s fourth visit to the Vatican.

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