John Paul II Hails Polish Defense of Europe's Christian Roots

Meets With Prime Minister Marek Belka

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2004 ( John Paul II thanked the Polish government for its efforts to have the Christian roots of Europe mentioned in the EU’s Constitution, although the proposal did not receive a consensus.

The day after the signing of the Constitutional Treaty, in Rome, by 25 representatives of European countries, the Pope received Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka in the Vatican to comment on the historic event.

“As Pope, I am grateful to the Polish governments and Parliament for their understanding of the challenge and for taking it up,” the Holy Father said during the meeting Saturday.

In particular he thanked Belka for a letter in which the prime minister said: “The Polish government will do everything possible so that the new Constitution of the European Union will be understood in the spirit of European values, whose foundation is the Christian view of man and politics as a service to man himself and to the whole community.”

Belka, an economist and former economic minister before becoming prime minister on June 24, was responsible for the economic policy of the provisional authority established by the international coalition in Iraq.

In his address, John Paul II said that, together with the Holy See, he has personally supported the process of integration so that “Europe can breathe fully with two lungs: with the spirit of the West and of the East.”

“I trust that, despite the fact that the European Constitution lacks an explicit reference to the Christian roots of the culture of all the nations that make up the Community, the lasting values elaborated with the foundation of the Gospel by the generations of those who preceded us will continue to inspire the efforts of those who assume the responsibility of the formation of the face of our continent,” the Pope said.

“I hope that this institution, which at base is a community of free nations, not only will do what is possible so as not to deprive them of their spiritual patrimony, but that in addition it will guard it as the basis of unity,” he added.

“It is not possible to build a lasting unity by separating the countries of Europe from the roots from which they have grown and from the great richness of the spiritual culture of past centuries,” the Pope said. “There will be no unity in Europe until the latter is based on the unity of the spirit.”

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