VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2002 ( John Paul II appealed to the new united Europe not to disappoint the hopes of its young generations, especially at a time when the European Union is growing.

The Pope expressed this desire today when he received the letters of credence of Dagmar Babcanova, the new ambassador of Slovakia to the Vatican.

Slovakia is one of the 10 countries that will enter the European Union in May 2004, following a decision made last week at the Copenhagen summit.

"The promising prospect opens today of Slovakia's entry in the European Union," the Pope said in his address to the new envoy. "I am sure that this event will serve to offer the new Europe a significant contribution of culture and values, contributing to the consolidation of the 'common home' of the Continent."

"The long journey of growth made by the country in these 10 years, although undertaken in the midst of complex problems, is guarantee of a positive integration with reciprocal advantages in the concert of the other European nations," the Holy Father clarified.

"From this perspective, the solution to difficulties that have lasted for centuries will be facilitated," he continued. "How can one not also see in this event a possibility for the new generations to offer their own energies for the benefit of the common good?"

"This is also my fervent desire, recalling the enthusiasm with which on numerous occasions multitudes of Slovakian youths have expressed their joy as well as the vibrant expectations they carry in their hearts for the future," the Pope said.

"Enriched by a solid Christian formation, they will be able to take to their contemporaries of the Continent a convincing witness of the values that arise from the Gospel, demonstrating their dynamic fruitfulness by the construction of a just, supportive and peaceful society," he said.

"The society of tomorrow will be founded on youth," the Holy Father contended. "Therefore, it is necessary that the state go out to help them, offering indispensable support for their formation and subsequent insertion in the world of labor."

"In this context, the solicitude of all is extremely important in order to favor the formation of new and solid families, founded on marriage and open to life," he concluded. "The Church will not fail to offer its own contribution in its specific field."