Italian President Says Papal Trips Strengthen Europe's Identity

ROME, MAY 4, 2003 ( Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi said that John Paul II’s apostolic trips around Europe reinforce citizens’ sense of belonging to a community, which must be based on spiritual values.

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Ciampi expressed this conviction in a message he sent to the Pope on Saturday, in response to a telegram that the Holy Father sent him when he left Rome for Spain.

«I have re-read the address His Holiness delivered to the European Parliament in 1988,» Ciampi said. «He had the foresight to anticipate — when emphasizing integration, enlargement, cohesion — Europe’s present drive toward unity.»

«Following that unforgettable invitation, his European trips must reinforce in citizens of the Old World the feeling of a common and solidaristic belonging,» the president added.

«In these very crucial days for the future of the European Union, his mission and work are a lofty appeal to the ethical and spiritual values, on which European civilization is founded,» Ciampi said.

«I am convinced that his presence and word will be a source of encouragement, especially for the young people who will go to hear him with enthusiasm in Madrid,» the president added.

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