Pope Thanks Portugal for Efforts on Euroconstitution

Lisbon Wanted Continent's Christian Roots Mentioned

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 21, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Globalization needs to be enriched by Christian values, John Paul II said as he thanked Portugal for its efforts to have Europe's religious roots mentioned in the continent's Constitutional Treaty.



The Pope expressed his gratitude officially today when receiving the letters of credence of Lisbon's new ambassador to the Holy See, career diplomat João Alberto Bacelar Da Rocha Páris.

In his address, delivered in Portuguese at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father thanked the Lisbon government for not "hesitating to recognize and promote its own convictions" in the debates that preceded the writing of the European Constitution.

The proposal to introduce the Christian roots of Europe in the document was not accepted, because of the opposition of several countries, especially France and Belgium.

The text, which will be signed in Rome on Oct. 29 by heads of state and government, will eventually be subjected to a referendum or parliamentary ratification by the 25 member states of the European Union.

The Holy Father urged the Lisbon government to do everything possible so that "the convictions that stem from this [Christian] identity may be affirmed both in the national as well as the international realm."

John Paul II also applauded the signing of the new concordat between the Holy See and Portugal that regulates issues such as marriage, religious assistance and Church finances.

The concordat is a "profound expression of a matured consensus to reinforce the presence of this Christian 'soul' based on the profound historical relations between the Catholic Church and Portugal," the Pope said.

Its objective, John Paul II explained, "in the realm of religious freedom," is the "service of the common good and collaboration in the construction of a society that promotes the dignity of the human person, justice and peace."

He also expressed the hope that Portugal will "always be open to the new challenges of our society and aware that the Almighty will not leave empty-handed those who trust in his plans."