John Paul II and Croatian Discuss Future of Europe

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 8, 2004 ( Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader discussed the integration of the European Union and the future of the continent with John Paul II in a private audience.

Recalling the Pope’s visits to Croatia, the Prime Minister thanked him for the meeting “and for all you have done for Croatia and for the support you have given it now that Croatia is moving toward the Union.” Croatia is expected to enter the European Union in 2007.

The meeting today lasted about 10 minutes. At the end, the Pope greeted the Prime Minister’s wife, Mirjana, and his 10-member entourage.

Sanader took office a few weeks ago, after Parliament gave his government a vote of confidence on Dec. 23. It marked the return to power, after four years, of the center-right Croatian Democratic Community.

The Prime Minister gave the Holy Father the first copy of the Croatian edition of “Roman Triptych,” the book of poetry written by John Paul II and published last spring.

About 87% of Croatia’s 4.5 million inhabitants are Catholic.

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