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Monday, December 13, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 11, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of the new ambassador of the Republic of Croatia, Emilio Marin.  Recalling his three trips to the country, the Pope said that on the last one, made in 2003, which was his 100th trip abroad, he was able to see the "signs of Christianity incarnate in the life of the people." 

  The Pope said that, taking advantage of their religious heritage, "Croatians will continue to build up their own history in the future and, strengthened by their spiritual identity, they will bring their experience to the people of Europe. For this reason, I hope that your efforts to become part of a united Europe bear fruit and I share the concern expressed by some that Croatia's delayed entrance into the European Union could harm the process of implementing the democratic reforms not only in your country, but also in the other nations of that part of the continent which are headed with fervent hope toward European integration."

  Referring to the ambassador's remarks about the "commitment of the Croatian people to promote dialogue, reconciliation and peace in the country and in the far broader society of Euro-Atlantic countries," John Paul II said: "It is also true that the country that you represent needs reconciliation and peace. I am also thinking of the ongoing problem of refugees and exiles, especially in Bosnia-Herzegovina, who hope to go home." He indicated that the recent agreement between Croatia and Serbia "is a positive and important contribution to ensure the full and reciprocal recognition of the rights of the Croatian minority in Serbia and Montenegro and of the Serbian minority in Croatia."

  The Pope emphasized that after the period of totalitarian regimes and the last war ended, the country is looking "for peaceful progress, patiently, generously and optimistically, while trying hard to create a better future for all of its citizens."

  "On various occasions," he concluded, "I have encouraged bishops not to spare any efforts to promote an evangelization that appreciates the valid elements of popular religiosity, and to cooperate actively with the State for the true good of Croatia society.  In this context, the agreements between the Holy See and Croatia are positive, even if they have not yet been put into effect."
CD/CREDENTIALS/CROATIA:MARIN                    VIS 20041213 (390)

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