Wide-Ranging Discussion Held with Polish President

Sept. 11 Fallout and Country’s Entry in European Union Among Topics

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KRAKOW, Poland, AUG. 18, 2002 (Zenit.org).- At a meeting with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, John Paul II urged a change in man’s thinking in order to establish peace.

At their meeting Saturday, Kwasniewski also reported to the Pope on the negotiations for Poland’s entry in the European Union, and explained that the country’s economy is not developing as quickly as expected.

The two met in the residence of the archbishop of Krakow. In statements to the press, the Polish president said they talked about the consequences of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Pope stressed the need for a change in man’s thinking to halt the spiral of violence, the president said.

Kwasniewski, born in 1954, a former leader of Communist youth organizations, was a member of the executive committee of Communist organizations during the years when the Solidarity labor movement was at its height. He won the presidency in 1995, when Lech Walesa lost his bid for re-election.

His meeting with the Holy Father touched on Poland’s unemployment rate (almost 20%), its economic slowdown, the education of youth, and the struggle against poverty, among other topics.

Kwasniewski commented on the Pope’s intellectual acuity at age 82. He was impressed that the Holy Father «does not need papers» when addressing a topic.

John Paul II followed carefully the Polish president’s report on the country’s progress toward integration in the European Union. The Pope did not explicitly support the country’s controversial entry in the EU.

Following his meeting with the president, John Paul II received Prime Minister Leszek Miller.

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