Solidarity Encouraged to Spread Its Spirit to Europe

Pope Greets Members of Polish Labor Union

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 29, 2004 ( John Paul II hopes that the spirit of the Polish labor union Solidarity, which helped change the course of history, will also enrich the European Union.

The Pope expressed this hope today when greeting fellow countrymen attending the general audience in St. Peter’s Square. Among the Poles were members of the well-known labor union.

“This movement born on Polish soil opened the doors to freedom in many countries of Europe,” the Holy Father said, recalling the peaceful revolution of 1989 that led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.

“I rejoice because the spirit of ‘Solidarnosc’ continues to unite so many people in our homeland. I hope this healthy spirit will also penetrate a united Europe,” he said before taking leave of the group.

Last Nov. 11, John Paul II met with figures of Solidarity, among whom was former Polish President Lech Walesa, to acknowledge with profound sadness that the events that brought freedom to Eastern Europe “seem to escape the memory,” especially of young people.

The Pope urged the labor union “to come out openly in defense of workers, to whom businessmen deny the right to a voice, the right to oppose phenomena that violate the fundamental rights of the worker.” He added on that occasion: “If ‘Solidarnosc’ really wants to serve the nation today, it must return to its roots.”

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