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Monday, November 10, 2003


VATICAN CITY, NOV 8, 2003 (VIS) - This morning in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father received 6,500 pilgrims from Croatia who have come to Rome to thank the Pope for visiting their country in June. Among those present is Cardinal Josip Bozanic, president of the episcopal conference, as well as representatives from military and civil authorities in the country.

After recalling that his apostolic trip to Croatia was his 100(th) trip outside of Italy since the beginning of his pontificate, the Pope said: 'As a pilgrim of the Gospel on the ways of the world, called to serve the Church in the chair of Peter, I was able to confirm you in the faith which you have born witness to amidst much adversity and suffering. I wanted to sustain your hope, often put to the test, and to enliven your charity by urging you to persevere in your adhesion to the Church in the new climate of freedom and democracy, reestablished three years ago.'

'Your beloved land,' he continued, 'has the necessary strength and capacity to adequately confront the challenges of the present moment. I hope that it may always know how to use these resources in order to build up a solid society which is ready to diligently support its weakest members; a society founded on religious and human values, that through the centuries have inspired the generations that have proceeded you; a society that respects the sanctity of life and the great project of God for the family; a society that keeps its healthy elements united, promoting the spirit of communion and joint responsibility.'

John Paul II concluded by asking God to grant 'the noble nation of Croatia peace, harmony and perseverance in the commitment of the common good.'

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