European Union Urged to Accept New Members

Pope Makes an Appeal as Copenhagen Summit Approaches

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2002 ( John Paul II appealed to leaders of the European Union to accept applicant nations, on the eve of a key EU meeting.

«I would like to invite you now to support with prayer the political leaders who will meet in Copenhagen in the coming days, Dec. 12 and 13, to conclude important negotiations related to the accession of new countries to the European Union,» the Pope said today after praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

The Holy Father made his plea «so this continent will be able to be enriched with the contribution of the cultural and religious traditions of nations that, throughout the centuries, have left a precious common legacy of civilization.»

«May God enlighten all Europeans so that they will unite and also offer confidence and hope to other nations,» he concluded.

EU leaders are expected to conclude negotiations in the Danish capital for the accession of 10 countries: Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

The leaders will also consider Turkey’s request to fix the date for the opening of talks for its admittance to the European Union.

On numerous occasions, John Paul II has supported the enlargement of the European Union toward the center and East of the Continent.

On Aug. 19, in Poland, the Holy Father said: «I hope that, preserving these values, Polish society — which for centuries has formed part of Europe — will find the place that corresponds to it in the structures of the European Union, in which not only will it not lose its identity, but will also be able to enrich with its tradition this continent and the whole world.»

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