VATICAN CITY, MARCH 9, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appealed for collaboration among all believers, especially Catholics and Orthodox, for peace and respect of human rights.
The proposal was part of a message sent today from his hospital room at the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome, to the new Georgian ambassador to the Holy See, Princess Khetevane Bagration of Moukhrani. The new envoy presented her letters of credence in the Vatican to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state.
“Today more than ever, believers are called to join forces to establish the solid foundations of a genuine social renewal, contributing to the formation of consciences on the paths of peace and respect for the inviolable dignity and rights of every person,” the Pope stated in his address.
This cooperation, the message indicated, implies “the elimination at its very root of all forms of hostility, prejudice and discord.”
After recalling that Catholics comprise a small minority in Georgia (less than 2%), the Holy Father expressed his desire to collaborate with “his Orthodox brothers and sisters,” who are the majority in the former Soviet republic.
This dialogue must be enlarged to “all men of good will to build a future of freedom, justice and social harmony,” the Pope stated.
Princess Khetevane, who was born in exile in France, offered her services as an adviser of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Tbilisi when John Paul II visited her country in 1999.
On that trip, the Pope paid homage to Georgia’s “Christian heritage” and contributed to the promotion of good relations between Catholic and Orthodox, which are experiencing difficulties in some regions after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Finally, the papal message called for “a constructive dialogue between the Catholic Church and the government authorities so that the Catholic community will be assured of legal protection in the exercise of its own mission.”
“The Catholic Church in Georgia,” he said, “desires to offer its own contribution to the spiritual rebirth of the nation and to the progress of the common good, not only by fulfilling its specific religious mission, but also through its commitment to charitable endeavors, the promotion of cultural exchanges and educational opportunities for young people, who are the future of Georgia.”