Austrian-Czech Reconciliation Urged by Episcopates

Aim to Aid the Unification of Europe

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VIENNA, Austria, MARCH 31, 2003 ( Cardinal Christoph Schönborn and Archbishop Jan Graubner, the respective presidents of the Austrian and Czech episcopal conferences, hope that both countries join forces to contribute to European unification.

This was reflected in a recent joint statement entitled «Reconciliation and Cordial Relations in the Heart of Europe,» presented simultaneously in Vienna and Prague.

The cardinal and the archbishop hope that the statement contributes «to the process of European enlargement and unification that is taking place at present and that the Holy Father has continuously encouraged,» the SIR agency reported.

The statement acknowledges the «long and complicated history of relations between Austria and the Czech Republic.»

«Despite the positive contributions that the two countries have exchanged in the social and cultural realm, there are also examples of violent conflicts and lack of mutual respect,» the text stated.

«The 20th-century nationalist and totalitarian regimes that lacerated Europe have left terrible traces in Austrian and Czech lands and affect relations between both countries,» it said.

For this reason, «Austrian and Czech Christians must join forces to contribute to the unification of Europe. It is necessary to look back on history and to acknowledge the evil that has been committed by both.»

The Austrian cardinal and Czech archbishop said that «it is urgent to review history and to have greater participation in the efforts of reconciliation and cooperation that are being carried out, especially in the past 10 years.»

«We ask all men of good will in Austria and the Czech Republic to support this process of reconciliation, which not only will intensify relations between the two peoples, but will help the process of European enlargement,» they concluded.

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