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Monday, April 11, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 11 APR 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received the letters of credence of Filip Vucak, new ambassador of Croatia to the Holy See, a country he will visit on 4-5 June.

  Benedict XVI referred to the "beauty of its culture and the depth of its ancestors' faith", and highlighted the importance of "[fortifying] the current generations by showing them clearly their rich Croatian historical heritage and the Christian culture with which it is deeply permeated, and which has always supported the Croatian people in times of adversity".

  Recalling that "Croatia will soon fully enter the European Union", Benedict XVI remarked that "this integration must be achieved fully respecting Croatia's specific characteristics, regarding its religious life and culture. It would be illusory to repudiate this identity in favour of another born in circumstances different to those of the birth and construction of Croatia".

  "In entering the European Union", he continued "your country shall not only be the recipient of an economic and legal system with both advantages and limits, but should also bring its own, typically Croatian contribution. Croatia should not be afraid to make a determined claim for respect for its history and its religious and cultural identity. Dour voices dispute Europe's religious roots with bewildering regularity. Amnesia and the denial of historical evidence have become customary. To declare that Europe does not have Christian roots is like claiming that a man may live without oxygen or nourishment ... I am sure that your country will know how to defend its identity with conviction and pride and to avoid the new pitfalls as they appear which, under the pretext of a misunderstood religious freedom, are contrary to natural law, the family, and morality".

  The Pope expressed his satisfaction at the interest the country has shown in enabling "Croatians in Bosnia-Herzegovina to fulfil their role a sone of the three constituent peoples of that country". In this context, he confirmed that "Croatia contributes its specific experience to facilitate dialogue and comprehension between people of different traditions co-existing throughout the centuries" and encouraged them to "continue along this path of consolidating peace through respect for all". Likewise, he expressed his pleasure that Croatia "promotes religious freedom and respects the specific mission of the Church".

  "For all these reasons", he concluded his address to the ambassador, "I am most pleased to be able to visit your country in a few weeks' time... As you know, the theme chosen for the trip will be  'Together in Christ!'... Together in spite of the innumerable human differences, together in diversity! ... In the name of Christ, who accompanied the Croatian people throughout centuries with goodness and mercy, I wish to offer encouragement to your country and to the Church which accompanies you".
CD/                                    VIS 20110411 (470)

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