Slovenians Urged to Be Faithful to Christian Roots

VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2004 ( John Paul II urged Slovenian citizens to be faithful to their Christian cultural and spiritual heritage, when he received the country’s prime minister, Anton Rop, in audience.

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“I know that Slovenia wants to contribute to the common commitment to make Europe a true family of nations in a context of freedom and mutual cooperation, at the same time safeguarding its cultural and spiritual identity,” the Pope said today.

“Mr. Prime Minister, I am convinced that Slovenia will be able to offer this contribution in an effective manner, as she can also make reference to Christian values, which are an integral part of her history and culture,” the Holy Father said in Slovenian. “Be always faithful to these values.”

About 82% of Slovenia’s 1.9 million inhabitants are Catholic. Once a part of Yugoslavia, Slovenia declared her independence in 1991 and entered the European Union last May 1.

Rop and a delegation came to Rome to ratify an agreement between the Holy See and Slovenia on juridical questions, signed in Ljubljana in December 2001.

The agreement, described as historic by Vatican Radio, was ratified after 10 years of negotiations. The former Communist republic has now granted the Catholic Church juridical status.

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