Key for Economic Growth Isn't Spiritual Poverty, Says John Paul II

Urges Ireland’s Fidelity to Its Religious and Human Values

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 6, 2004 ( John Paul II urged Ireland to retain the human and religious values that have shaped its history so that its «remarkable economic growth» will not bring a «spiritual impoverishment.»

The Pope expressed these thoughts Saturday when addressing Ireland’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Philip McDonagh, a career diplomat who until recently was ambassador in India.

In his address to the Irish envoy, the Holy Father expressed his hopes for the peace process in Northern Ireland, and appealed to Ireland to do all that it can so that the European Union will hear the cry of the refugees and immigrants who knock on its doors.

«Ireland has recently undergone significant social changes, including remarkable economic growth,» he noted.

«A more prosperous society has greater possibilities of becoming a more just and open society,» the Pope said. «But it is also faced with new challenges, including the danger of a certain spiritual impoverishment and indifference to the deeper moral and religious dimensions of life.»

«Your country’s aspiration to become a profoundly modern society, within the family of European nations, will find its highest expression in a commitment to reaffirming above all the incomparable dignity and the right to life of each human person,» the Holy Father said.

«I am confident that by remaining true to the values which have shaped Ireland as a nation from the time of its evangelization, your people will help to make an outstanding contribution to the future of Europe,» he continued.

John Paul II also commented on the hopes that Ambassador McDonagh himself expressed on the peace process.

«I pray,» the Pope said, «that every effort is being made to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Good Friday Agreement, which has given new impulse and new hope to the people of Northern Ireland.»

«The Catholic Church in Ireland working together with other Christian communities is committed to consolidating positive attitudes of comprehension, respect and esteem of others through ecumenical activities and educational efforts,» he added.

«The message of the Gospel cannot be separated from the call to a change of heart; neither can evangelization be isolated from ecumenism and the promotion of fellowship, reconciliation and openness to others, especially to other Christians,» the Holy Father said.

«May the initiatives of all those who seek peace and reconciliation be blessed by God’s grace and bear fruit for the children of tomorrow,» he added.

The Pope also reminded the Irish government that the «plight of refugees and those displaced by poverty, war or persecution is particularly dramatic and calls for special consideration and generosity.»

«The Holy See hopes that the steps taken during the Irish presidency of the European Union in favor of policies of openness to other peoples will continue to inspire the Community’s attitude to immigrants from other continents and cultures,» he said.

John Paul II added: «I encourage your country to continue to address this important humanitarian problem together with your European counterparts with an open heart and persevering commitment.»

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