VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II thanked Malta for its commitment in helping to promote the mention of the continent’s Christian heritage in the European Constitution.
The Pope voiced his appreciation during an audience with the country’s president, Edward Fenech Adami.
“Your visit today occurs at an important moment in the history of your country,” the Holy Father said. “As Malta takes its rightful place in the European Union, it has a vital role to play in upholding the profoundly Christian identity of this continent.”
“In this regard I would like to express the Holy See’s sincere appreciation for the support given by Your Excellency and the government of Malta for the inclusion of a reference to Europe’s Christian heritage in the preamble of the Constitutional Treaty of the European Union,” he added.
In fact, the version of the constitution approved by European Union leaders fails to mention Christianity. The constitution still must be ratified by all 25 member states before it comes into effect.
At the audience, the Pope said: “Since the time of Saint Paul, Malta has been renowned for its firm adherence to the faith. I pray that it will persevere in this and I am confident that the Maltese people, well known for their dedication to the Church and, in particular, their great respect for family life, will draw others to a deeper appreciation of the liberating message of the Gospel.”
The island nation has a population of 400,000, about 91% Catholic.