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Wednesday, November 3, 2004


VATICAN CITY, OCT 30, 2004 (VIS) - John Paul II today received Marek Belka, president of the Council of Ministers of Poland, with his wife and an entourage. The prime minister came to Rome for the signing yesterday at Rome's City Hall of the constitution of the European Union.

  The Pope called yesterday's signing ceremony "an event that in a certain sense concludes the process of enlarging the Community to those States that have always cooperated in the formation of the spiritual and institutional foundations of the Old Continent, but in recent decades were, so to speak, on the margins of the continent. The Apostolic See and I personally sought to sustain such a process so that Europe could fully breathe with both lungs: with the spirit of the East and of the West."

  The Holy Father continued, saying that "even though there was no explicit reference in the European constitution to the Christian roots of the culture of all nations that today comprise the Community, I have faith that the perennial values laid forth on the basis of the Gospel by generations of those who preceded us, will continue to inspire the efforts of those who have the responsibility of forming the face of our continent. I hope that this structure, which in the end is a community of free nations, not only will do everything possible to not deprive them of their spiritual patrimony but will also safeguard it as a basis of unity.

  "As I said in Gniezno in 1997, it is not possible to build lasting unity 'separating ourselves from the roots from which European countries grew and from the great richness of the spiritual culture of past centuries'. 'There will be no unity in Europe until it is founded on unity of spirit'."

  The Pope thanked the prime minister, and the government and Parliament of Poland for all they have done and will do "so that the new constitution of the European union will be understood in the spirit of European values, at the basis of which is the Christian vision of man and politics as service dedicated to man himself and to the entire community."

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