VATICAN CITY, NOV. 6, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II received Irish President Mary McAleese in audience and encouraged all those “committed to the advancement of Ireland in the path of justice and solidarity.”
“Ireland, with its rich Christian history and its outstanding patrimony of spiritual and cultural values, has an essential role to play in the building of the new Europe and the affirmation of its deepest identity,” the Pope said today in his brief address to McAleese.
“It is my hope that the Gospel message will provide continued inspiration and encouragement to all who are committed to the advancement of Ireland in the path of justice and solidarity, and above all in the great work of national reconciliation,” the Holy Father added.
The Irish president was in Rome to attend the celebrations for the 375th anniversary of the founding of the Pontifical Irish College, where priests and seminarians studying at pontifical universities reside. Cardinal Desmond Connell, archbishop of Dublin, was also expected to attend the ceremony.
“I take this occasion to express to you my deep affection for the Irish people and I ask you kindly to bring back to them the Pope’s warm greeting and the assurance of his prayers,” John Paul II said.
McAleese gave the Pope a book on his 1979 visit to Ireland, and the Holy Father gave the Irish chief executive a bronze bas-relief of a woman and child, Vatican Radio reported.