ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II
Thursday, 5 September 2002
1. I am pleased to receive from you the Letters with which the President of the Republic accredits you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Slovenia to the Holy See. As I offer you my cordial welcome, I also express deep gratitude for the courteous greeting and good wishes that the President, Mr Milan Kucan, has addressed to me through you.
I warmly recall the two visits that Divine Providence has granted me to make to Slovenia. The meetings I have had at the Vatican with the President of the Republic and other Government officials and my visits have helped to reinforce the dialogue that has existed for centuries between the Slovenian people and the Apostolic See.
The Holy See appreciates your country's action for peace and cooperation among the nations and regards positively the effort being made to enter the European Union as a full member. Slovenia's independence allowed its European soul to emerge along with the role it carries out as a peaceful and fruitful meeting place of the different peoples of the continent.
Dialogue with other cultures is rich and fruitful to the extent that it is sincere and respectful. While the Slovenian nation is open to meeting and confronting different traditions, ways of being and guiding values, it firmly intends to preserve its own identity of which it is justifiably proud. The Slovenian people know that if this heritage, passed down to them by their forefathers, is impoverished, the nation could be disoriented as it faces the globalization process that is the hallmark of our time.
The Christian heritage, which for centuries has been the foundation of civic life in your country and is still a source of energy for it, is a valid contribution to offer to the consolidation of a civilization in Europe that fosters mutual understanding among peoples. For this reason, the vocation to act as a bridge between different cultures, fostering a useful exchange between them has the full support and encouragement of the Holy See.
One must react to every attempt to exclude from the building of the new Europe the contribution of Christianity because this would remove important energies from the process of establishing civil coexistence ethically and culturally on the continent.
The Agreement between the Republic of Slovenia and the Holy See signed last 14 December is a significant example of mutual cooperation. I want to express the keen hope that it may now be approved by the legislative organs to which it has been submitted, in order to become operative without delay. It is an agreement that guarantees the basic right to religious freedom. As an instrument which regulates the relations between the Church and the State in a particular, but not exclusive way, it serves the good of the Catholic community and it is both a point of arrival and a starting point for further agreements.
Please convey to the President, the government authorities and the people whom you represent, my respectful greeting, along with my fervent good wishes for the prosperity and progress of Slovenia, in peace and justice. I confirm these sentiments with the assurance of my prayers, as I invoke the Blessings of Almighty God upon you and upon all your fellow-citizens.
*L'Osservatore Romano. Weekly Edition in Englishn.38 p.2.
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