European Union Will Help Mend Yalta Divisions, Says Pope

Receives New Hungarian Ambassador to the Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 24, 2002 ( John Paul II says the enlargement of the European Union to include countries of the East should serve to overcome at last the divisions that emerged after World War II.

The Pope offered that view today when he received the letters of credence of Gabor Erdody, professor of German history, and new Hungarian ambassador to the Vatican. In 1989, Erdody founded Igen, a Catholic magazine for young people. From 1992-96 he was Hungarian ambassador in Germany.

During the meeting, the Holy Father noted that Hungary, a country of more than 10 million inhabitants, 6.2 million of whom are baptized Catholics, is one of the candidates for admission to the European Union.

«The Holy See is pleased before the prospect of this enlargement of the Union, which should permit the progressive re-establishment of the unity of the European continent, broken with the Yalta division and the closing of the Soviet bloc,» John Paul II said.

In his address to the Pope, Erdody said: «In keeping with our hopes, with the enlargement to the East, in the year 2004 the nations of Central Europe that are ready will finally be able to join the family of free peoples.»

The new ambassador also said that «the Catholic Church has played an indispensable role in the realization of European integration.»

In his response, the Pope said: «The free movement of people and goods, as well as the dialogue of cultures and the exchange of spiritual riches among the nations, are the elements capable of overcoming fears, narrow-mindedness and the nationalist narrowness that even in the recent past have stirred so much hostility on a European and world scale.»

John Paul II expressed the hope that Hungary, «witnessing to its history and rich cultural identity, will make its contribution so that the Europe of tomorrow will not just be a great market of material goods, but rather the living expression of the numerous cultural and spiritual riches, proper to each nation and placed in common at the service of the Union.»

«It is an important responsibility of European nations with respect to the peoples of other continents, who in turn desire to unite their riches and efforts to serve development and peace,» the Holy Father concluded.

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