ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II
Saturday, 1 June 2002
1. I would like to offer you a cordial welcome as I gladly receive the Letters with which President Ion Iliescu of the Republic of Romania accredits you as the new Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See. I express my gratitude to the First Magistrate of the nation you represent for the words of esteem and consideration he has addressed to me through you, and in return through you I offer him my best wishes and esteem.
After the sad and painful years of the Communist regime, Romania has started on the path of democracy. Concrete proof of the maturity of this change of direction is the peaceful alternation of political parties after the elections. I fervently hope that it will be a constant process, so that Romania may make its voice heard in a more influential way in Europe and in the world.
In this path of renewal, through her structures and in accord with her expertise, the Catholic Church is making her own intelligent contribution. Among other things, the Catholic community is known for its work in the fields of social assistance, education and health-care, as well as in the delicate spiritual ministry of evangelization and the pastoral care of souls. On many occasions down through history, the Gospel has been the profound inspiration of the Romanian people in many of the historical manifestations that originated in Christian faith.
In view of these important spiritual antecedents, how can I fail to encourage the efforts for transparent honesty that all the country's leaders are making? May the fulfilment of their duties in accord with the dictates and spirit of the law contribute to keep the pace of reforms from slowing down and keep respect for the rights of all from being weakened, and in the final analysis, prevent betrayal of confidence in the stability of State institutions. Moreover, the more united and solidary Romania is, the better it will be able to appreciate its different members acting in such a way as to avoid giving priority to any one ethnic group, but ensure that all citizens feel an integral part of the nation.
I know that ecumenical projects abound and that an atmosphere of brotherhood is being created in various dioceses. I pray that there will be more and more of such initiatives, so that we may obey Christ, who asks his disciples to be one (cf. Jn 17,11).
It would strengthen respect and collaboration if the civil authorities not only help to find the appropriate solutions, but also to return, following a criterion of justice, the Church property that was previously confiscated, so that the Catholic Church may use them for the fulfilment of her mission. Never forget that the greater the efforts made to heal the wounds of the past, that are potential reasons for confrontation, the more Christians will be encouraged to devote their energies to the good of the entire society.
For this reason I hope that the State will permit the Church to maintain a constant dialogue with the public authorities, in order to reach agreements for cooperation in the various sectors of social life.
The Church is not asking for privileges for herself or for immunity. On the contrary, faithful to her own inner ends, she desires to serve every person in the name of Christ, and her mission becomes all the more urgent when a human being is suffering or in difficulty. Here I am thinking of the many problems of unemployment, emigration, the unsettlement of families, as well as of the obstacles that prevent young people from looking serenely to the future.
6. Mr Ambassador, at the time when you are preparing to exercise the important office entrusted to you by the President, I would like to restate that you will always find my collaborators prepared to give you the help you need to carry out your duties. I warmly hope that you will contribute with your mission to reinforce the bonds that already exist between your country and the Holy See, and I invoke upon you and upon the beloved Romanian people an abundance of divine blessings.
*L'Osservatore Romano. Edition hebdomadaire en langue française n. 33 pp.4, 5.
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