It is, therefore, by a particular decree of Divine Providence that, at the fall of the Roman Empire and its partition into separate kingdoms,
the Roman Pontiff, whom Christ made the head and center of his entire Church, acquired civil power
.

- Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Cum Catholica Ecclesia, March 26, 1860.


Pope Calls For A New World Order

UN's failure to halt US war on Iraq leads to new initiative
John Hooper in Rome
The Guardian, Friday 2 January 2004

Pope John Paul II launched one of the most important diplomatic initiatives of his long papacy yesterday when he called for a new international order to replace the one that emerged from the second world war. Though he did not offer a detailed plan, his words appeared to show he wanted the UN replaced in light of its failure to block the use of force by America in Iraq.

The Pope called last month for the reform of world institutions and deplored any failure to respect international law. But in a sermon during a mass at St Peter's in Rome yesterday, he went much further, referring to the UN as if it were already a part of the past.

"More than ever, we need a new international order that draws on the experience and results achieved in these years by the United Nations," he declared during a service to mark the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace, celebrated on January 1.

He was flanked at the altar by two of his most senior international representatives: the secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino, who outraged many Americans last month by expressing "pity" and "compassion" for the captured Saddam Hussein.

The congregation included the heads of all the diplomatic missions accredited to the Holy See.

In his homily, the Pope said the new world order he wanted "would be able to provide solutions to the problems of today ... based on the dignity of human beings, an integrated development of society, solidarity between rich and poor nations, and on the sharing of resources and the extraordinary results of scientific and technological progress."

The Pope believes that not enough of these goals are being achieved with the present system of international organisations that emerged in the late 40s, including the UN, the IMF and the World Bank.

But the central issue, seen from the Vatican's point of view, is the growing irrelevance of a painstakingly constructed body of international law which is being ignored by the US administration during its "war on terror".

Cardinal Martino first signalled the Pope's disquiet last month when he presented a document written by the pontiff to mark the World Day of Peace. Without naming the US, the Pope warned: "Peace and international law are closely linked to each other: law favours peace". He also pointedly observed that "democratic governments know well that the use of force against terrorists cannot justify a renunciation of the principles of the rule of law".

The Pope acknowledged that current international law was ill-suited to dealing with rebels or terrorists and called for new treaties and reform of the UN. But yesterday's appeal was for an altogether more sweeping change.

With observer status at the UN and a network of diplomats covering 174 countries, the Holy See is in a strong position to lobby for its goals.

Its concerns over US attitudes are unlikely to be assuaged by the latest statement of policy from President George Bush's secretary of state, Colin Powell. In an article for the New York Times yesterday, Mr Powell said: "President Bush's vision is clear and right: America's formidable power must continue to be deployed on behalf of principles that are simultaneously American, but that are also beyond and greater than ourselves."

Senior members of the Catholic Church of England and Wales endorsed the Pope's comments. "We welcome the words of the Vatican and fully support what the Holy See says in this," said Ollie Wilson, a spokesman for the Catholic media office.

They cast doubt however on whether he had meant to imply that the UN had had its day and should be replaced.

Peter Jennings, press secretary to the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, said: "The Pope is a great advocate of the UN."

_________________
Note : Perhaps because the United Nations is the closest international institution to a sort of future global government in formation, where international law and jurisdiction would overide the sovereignty of the nation-state, just as the supranational EU legislation and laws overide those of the individual EU member states in many areas. The Papacy being the only power to lay a claim to primacy over the world, probably sees itself as the head of such a future world government.


MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II

FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE
WORLD DAY OF PEACE

1 JANUARY 2004

AN EVER TIMELY COMMITMENT:
TEACHING PEACE

My words are addressed to you, the Leaders of the nations, who have the duty of promoting peace!

To you, Jurists, committed to tracing paths to peaceful agreement, preparing conventions and treaties which strengthen international legality!

To you, Teachers of the young, who on all continents work tirelessly to form consciences in the ways of understanding and dialogue!

And to you too, men and women tempted to turn to the unacceptable means of terrorism and thus compromise at its root the very cause for which you are fighting!

All of you, hear the humble appeal of the Successor of Peter who cries out: today too, at the beginning of the New Year 2004, peace remains possible. And if peace is possible, it is also a duty!

A practical initiative

1. My first Message for the World Day of Peace, in the beginning of January 1979, was centred on the theme: “To Reach Peace, Teach Peace”.

That New Year's Message followed in the path traced by Pope Paul VI of venerable memory, who had wished to celebrate on January 1 each year a World Day of Prayer for Peace. I recall the words of the late Pontiff for the New Year 1968: “It would be Our desire, then, that this celebration take place each year as a sign of hope and promise, at the beginning of the calendar which measures and guides the journey of human life through time, in order that Peace, with its just and salutary equilibrium, will dominate the unfolding of history yet to come”.(1)

Faithful to the wishes expressed by my venerable Predecessor on the Chair of Peter, each year I have continued this noble tradition by dedicating the first day of the civil year to reflection and to prayer for peace in the world.

In the twenty-five years of Pontificate which the Lord has thus far granted me, I have not failed to speak out before the Church and the world, inviting believers and all persons of good will to take up the cause of peace and to help bring about this fundamental good, thereby assuring the world a better future, one marked by peaceful coexistence and mutual respect.

Once more this year I feel bound to invite all men and women, on every continent, to celebrate a new World Day of Peace. Humanity needs now more than ever to rediscover the path of concord, overwhelmed as it is by selfishness and hatred, by the thirst for power and the lust for vengeance.

The science of peace

2. The eleven Messages addressed to the world by Pope Paul VI progressively mapped out the path to be followed in attaining the ideal of peace. Slowly but surely the great Pontiff set forth the various chapters of a true “science of peace”. It can be helpful to recall the themes of the Messages bequeathed to us by Pope Paul VI for this occasion.(2) Each of these Messages continues to be timely today. Indeed, before the tragedy of the wars which at the beginning of the Third Millennium are still causing bloodshed throughout the world, especially in the Middle East, they take on at times the tone of prophetic admonishments.

A primer of peace

3. For my part, throughout these twenty-five years of my Pontificate, I have sought to advance along the path marked out by my venerable Predecessor. At the dawn of each new year I have invited people of good will to reflect, in the light of reason and of faith, on different aspects of an orderly coexistence.

The result has been a synthesis of teaching about peace which is a kind of primer on this fundamental theme: a primer easy to understand by those who are well-disposed, but at the same time quite demanding for anyone concerned for the future of humanity.(3)

The various colours of the prism of peace have now been amply illustrated. What remains now is to work to ensure that the ideal of a peaceful coexistence, with its specific requirements, will become part of the consciousness of individuals and peoples. We Christians see the commitment to educate ourselves and others to peace as something at the very heart of our religion. For Christians, in fact, to proclaim peace is to announce Christ who is “our peace” (Eph 2:14); it is to announce his Gospel, which is a “Gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15); it is to call all people to the beatitude of being “peacemakers” (cf. Mt 5:9).

Teaching peace

4. In my Message for the World Day of Peace on 1 January 1979 I made this appeal: To Reach Peace, Teach Peace. Today that appeal is more urgent than ever, because men and women, in the face of the tragedies which continue to afflict humanity, are tempted to yield to fatalism, as if peace were an unattainable ideal.

The Church, on the other hand, has always taught and continues today to teach a very simple axiom: peace is possible. Indeed, the Church does not tire of repeating that peace is a duty. It must be built on the four pillars indicated by Blessed John XXIII in his Encyclical Pacem in Terris: truth, justice, love and freedom. A duty is thus imposed upon all those who love peace: that of teaching these ideals to new generations, in order to prepare a better future for all mankind.

Teaching legality

5. In this task of teaching peace, there is a particularly urgent need to lead individuals and peoples to respect the international order and to respect the commitments assumed by the Authorities which legitimately represent them. Peace and international law are closely linked to each another: law favours peace.

From the very dawn of civilization, developing human communities sought to establish agreements and pacts which would avoid the arbitrary use of force and enable them to seek a peaceful solution of any controversies which might arise. Alongside the legal systems of the individual peoples there progressively grew up another set of norms which came to be known as ius gentium (the law of the nations). With the passage of time, this body of law gradually expanded and was refined in the light of the historical experiences of the different peoples.

This process was greatly accelerated with the birth of modern States. From the sixteenth century on, jurists, philosophers and theologians were engaged in developing the various headings of international law and in grounding it in the fundamental postulates of the natural law. This process led with increasing force to the formulation of universal principles which are prior to and superior to the internal law of States, and which take into account the unity and the common vocation of the human family.

Central among all these is surely the principle that pacta sunt servanda: accords freely signed must be honoured. This is the pivotal and exceptionless presupposition of every relationship between responsible contracting parties. The violation of this principle necessarily leads to a situation of illegality and consequently to friction and disputes which would not fail to have lasting negative repercussions. It is appropriate to recall this fundamental rule, especially at times when there is a temptation to appeal to the law of force rather than to the force of law.

One of these moments was surely the drama which humanity experienced during the Second World War: an abyss of violence, destruction and death unlike anything previously known.

Respect for law

6. That war, with the horrors and the appalling violations of human dignity which it occasioned, led to a profound renewal of the international legal order. The defence and promotion of peace were set at the centre of a broadly modernized system of norms and institutions. The task of watching over global peace and security and with encouraging the efforts of States to preserve and guarantee these fundamental goods of humanity was entrusted by Governments to an organization established for this purpose – the United Nations Organization – with a Security Council invested with broad discretionary power. Pivotal to the system was the prohibition of the use of force. This prohibition, according to the well-known Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, makes provision for only two exceptions. The first confirms the natural right to legitimate defence, to be exercised in specific ways and in the context of the United Nations: and consequently also within the traditional limits of necessity and proportionality.

The other exception is represented by the system of collective security, which gives the Security Council competence and responsibility for the preservation of peace, with power of decision and ample discretion.

The system developed with the United Nations Charter was meant “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind”.(4) In the decades which followed, however, the division of the international community into opposing blocs, the cold war in one part of the world, the outbreak of violent conflicts in other areas and the phenomenon of terrorism produced a growing break with the ideas and expectations of the immediate post-war period.

A NEW INTERNATIONAL ORDER

7. It must be acknowledged, however, that the United Nations Organization, even with limitations and delays due in great part to the failures of its members, has made a notable contribution to the promotion of respect for human dignity, the freedom of peoples and the requirements of development, thus preparing the cultural and institutional soil for the building of peace.

The activity of national Governments will be greatly encouraged by the realization that the ideals of the United Nations have become widely diffused, particularly through the practical gestures of solidarity and peace made by the many individuals also involved in Non-Governmental Organizations and in Movements for human rights.

This represents a significant incentive for a reform which would enable the United Nations Organization to function effectively for the pursuit of its own stated ends, which remain valid: “humanity today is in a new and more difficult phase of its genuine development. It needs a greater degree of international ordering”.(5) States must consider this objective as a clear moral and political obligation which calls for prudence and determination. Here I would repeat the words of encouragement which I spoke in 1995: “The United Nations Organization needs to rise more and more above the cold status of an administrative institution and to become a moral centre where all the nations of the world feel at home and develop a shared awareness of being, as it were, a family of nations”.(6)

The deadly scourge of terrorism

8. Today international law is hard pressed to provide solutions to situations of conflict arising from the changed landscape of the contemporary world. These situations of conflict frequently involve agents which are not themselves States but rather entities derived from the collapse of States, or connected to independence movements, or linked to trained criminal organizations. A legal system made up of norms established down the centuries as a means of disciplining relations between sovereign States finds it difficult to deal with conflicts which also involve entities incapable of being considered States in the traditional sense. This is particularly the case with terrorist groups.

The scourge of terrorism has become more virulent in recent years and has produced brutal massacres which have in turn put even greater obstacles in the way of dialogue and negotiation, increasing tensions and aggravating problems, especially in the Middle East.

Even so, if it is to be won, the fight against terrorism cannot be limited solely to repressive and punitive operations. It is essential that the use of force, even when necessary, be accompanied by a courageous and lucid analysis of the reasons behind terrorist attacks. The fight against terrorism must be conducted also on the political and educational levels: on the one hand, by eliminating the underlying causes of situations of injustice which frequently drive people to more desperate and violent acts; and on the other hand, by insisting on an education inspired by respect for human life in every situation: the unity of the human race is a more powerful reality than any contingent divisions separating individuals and people.

In the necessary fight against terrorism, international law is now called to develop legal instruments provided with effective means for the prevention, monitoring and suppression of crime. In any event, democratic governments know well that the use of force against terrorists cannot justify a renunciation of the principles of the rule of law. Political decisions would be unacceptable were they to seek success without consideration for fundamental human rights, since the end never justifies the means.

The contribution of the Church

9. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt 5:9). How could this saying, which is a summons to work in the immense field of peace, find such a powerful echo in the human heart if it did not correspond to an irrepressible yearning and hope dwelling within us? And why else would peacemakers be called children of God, if not because God is by nature the God of peace? Precisely for this reason, in the message of salvation which the Church proclaims throughout the world, there are doctrinal elements of fundamental importance for the development of the principles needed for peaceful coexistence between nations.

History teaches that the building of peace cannot prescind from respect for an ethical and juridical order, in accordance with the ancient adage: “Serva ordinem et ordo servabit te” (preserve order and order will preserve you). International law must ensure that the law of the more powerful does not prevail. Its essential purpose is to replace “the material force of arms with the moral force of law”,(7) providing appropriate sanctions for transgressors and adequate reparation for victims. This must also be applicable to those government leaders who violate with impunity human dignity and rights while hiding behind the unacceptable pretext that it is a matter of questions internal to their State.

In an Address which I gave to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See on 13 January 1997, I observed that international law is a primary means for pursuing peace: “For a long time international law has been a law of war and peace. I believe that it is called more and more to become exclusively a law of peace, conceived in justice and solidarity. And in this context morality must inspire law; morality can even assume a preparatory role in the making of law, to the extent that it shows the path of what is right and good”.(8)

Down the centuries, the teaching of the Church, drawing upon the philosophical and theological reflection of many Christian thinkers, has made a significant contribution in directing international law to the common good of the whole human family. Especially in more recent times the Popes have not hesitated to stress the importance of international law as a pledge of peace, in the conviction that “the harvest of justice is sown in peace by those who make peace” (Jas 3:18). This is the path which the Church, employing the means proper to her, is committed to following, in the perennial light of the Gospel and with the indispensable help of prayer.

The civilization of love

10. At the conclusion of these considerations, I feel it necessary to repeat that, for the establishment of true peace in the world, justice must find its fulfilment in charity. Certainly law is the first road leading to peace, and people need to be taught to respect that law. Yet one does not arrive at the end of this road unless justice is complemented by love. Justice and love sometimes appear to be opposing forces. In fact they are but two faces of a single reality, two dimensions of human life needing to be mutually integrated. Historical experience shows this to be true. It shows how justice is frequently unable to free itself from rancour, hatred and even cruelty. By itself, justice is not enough. Indeed, it can even betray itself, unless it is open to that deeper power which is love.

For this reason I have often reminded Christians and all persons of good will that forgiveness is needed for solving the problems of individuals and peoples. There is no peace without forgiveness! I say it again here, as my thoughts turn in particular to the continuing crisis in Palestine and the Middle East: a solution to the grave problems which for too long have caused suffering for the peoples of those regions will not be found until a decision is made to transcend the logic of simple justice and to be open also to the logic of forgiveness.

Christians know that love is the reason for God's entering into relationship with man. And it is love which he awaits as man's response. Consequently, love is also the loftiest and most noble form of relationship possible between human beings. Love must thus enliven every sector of human life and extend to the international order. Only a humanity in which there reigns the “civilization of love” will be able to enjoy authentic and lasting peace.

At the beginning of a New Year I wish to repeat to women and men of every language, religion and culture the ancient maxim: “Omnia vincit amor” (Love conquers all). Yes, dear Brothers and Sisters throughout the world, in the end love will be victorious! Let everyone be committed to hastening this victory. For it is the deepest hope of every human heart.

From the Vatican, 8 December 2003.

JOHN PAUL II


JOHN PAUL II
ANGELUS

Sunday, 31 October 2004

1. On Friday, 29 October, the Constitutional Treaty of the European Union was signed here in Rome, at the Campidoglio. This was a highly significant moment in building the "new Europe", which we continue to look upon with confidence. It is the most recent stage in a journey that will be long and evermore binding.

2. The Holy See has always favoured the promotion of a united Europe based on those common values that make up its history. Keeping in mind Europe's Christian roots means to take advantage of a spiritual patrimony that remains essential for the future development of the Union.

Therefore, I hope that in the years to come, Christians will continue to carry with them into all sectors of European institutions that "evangelical yeast" that is the pledge of peace and collaboration between all citizens in the shared effort to serve the common good.

3. Let us now prayerfully entrust all peoples of the Continent to Mary, Queen of Europe.


Pope John Paul II meets Gorbachev, 2005
Pope John Paul II meets former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in April 2005


Russian, Italian Leaders Agree to Boost Relations

CNN
February 10, 1998

VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who is on a state visit to Italy, on Tuesday was meeting Pope John Paul II for talks likely to be overshadowed by continuing strains over the role of the Roman Catholic Church in post-Communist Russia.

"The pope has a standing invitation and in no way has it been canceled," Yeltsin's press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembsky told reporters. He said that Yeltsin would repeat that invitation during his talks.

"But a visit of this sort requires a radical change in relations between the Russian Orthodox church and the Vatican," Yastrzhembsky added.

There have been long-standing differences between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican, which split in the Great Schism of 1054. And in more recent years, the Orthodox Church has claimed that post-Communist Russia's lifting of restrictions has opened the way to overzealous missionary work by Catholics.

The pope pleaded personally with Yeltsin to block passage of Russia's religion law, which he signed in September. The legislation enshrined Orthodoxy as the leading faith while curbing the rights of other churches.

Yastrzhembsky said Yeltsin's visit was not intended to resolve the Vatican-Orthodox differences.

Yeltsin, Prodi sign 'plan of action'

Shortly before his meeting with the pontiff, Yeltsin held talks with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi on what was the second day of his three-day state visit.

The two leaders signed a "plan of action" aimed at boosting bilateral relations, Prodi's office said. The document spells out a 10-year strategy to improve political, economic and cultural cooperation.

Italy is Russia's second most important trading partner in Europe after Germany, and on the occasion of this visit, both Rome and Moscow have emphasized their "special understanding."

Newly agreed cooperation is said to include an $850 million contract between Italian car giant Fiat SpA and Russia's GAZ to manufacture up to 150,000 Fiat cars annually at GAZ's plant.

Addressing the issue of Iraq, Yeltsin and Prodi called for diplomatic efforts to end the standoff and said they were continuing their efforts to bring about a negotiated settlement.

Correspondent Steve Harrigan, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


Gorbachev's Speech to the United Nations

CNN Cold War - Historical Documents

On December 7, 1988, Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev addressed the United Nations General Assembly. After speaking about the recent changes in the Soviet Union, Gorbachev amazed the global community when he announced drastic cuts in the Soviet military presence in Eastern Europe and along the Chinese border -- a move that ultimately allowed Soviet satellites to choose their own paths.

Excerpts of Address by Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev

43rd U.N. General Assembly Session
December 7, 1988

Two great revolutions, the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917, have exerted a powerful influence on the actual nature of the historical process and radically changed the course of world events. Both of them, each in its own way, have given a gigantic impetus to man's progress. They are also the ones that have formed in many respects the way of thinking which is still prevailing in the public consciousness.

That is a very great spiritual wealth, but there emerges before us today a different world, for which it is necessary to seek different roads toward the future, to seek -- relying, of course, on accumulated experience -- but also seeing the radical differences between that which was yesterday and that which is taking place today.

The newness of the tasks, and at the same time their difficulty, are not limited to this. Today we have entered an era when progress will be based on the interests of all mankind. Consciousness of this requires that world policy, too, should be determined by the priority of the values of all mankind.

The history of the past centuries and millennia has been a history of almost ubiquitous wars, and sometimes desperate battles, leading to mutual destruction. They occurred in the clash of social and political interests and national hostility, be it from ideological or religious incompatibility. All that was the case, and even now many still claim that this past -- which has not been overcome -- is an immutable pattern. However, parallel with the process of wars, hostility, and alienation of peoples and countries, another process, just as objectively conditioned, was in motion and gaining force: The process of the emergence of a mutually connected and integral world.

Further world progress is now possible only through the search for a consensus of all mankind, in movement toward a new world order. We have arrived at a frontier at which controlled spontaneity leads to a dead end. The world community must learn to shape and direct the process in such a way as to preserve civilization, to make it safe for all and more pleasant for normal life. It is a question of cooperation that could be more accurately called "co-creation" and "co-development." The formula of development "at another's expense" is becoming outdated. In light of present realities, genuine progress by infringing upon the rights and liberties of man and peoples, or at the expense of nature, is impossible.

The very tackling of global problems requires a new "volume" and "quality" of cooperation by states and sociopolitical currents regardless of ideological and other differences.

Of course, radical and revolutionary changes are taking place and will continue to take place within individual countries and social structures. This has been and will continue to be the case, but our times are making corrections here, too. Internal transformational processes cannot achieve their national objectives merely by taking "course parallel" with others without using the achievements of the surrounding world and the possibilities of equitable cooperation. In these conditions, interference in those internal processes with the aim of altering them according to someone else's prescription would be all the more destructive for the emergence of a peaceful order. In the past, differences often served as a factor in puling away from one another. Now they are being given the opportunity to be a factor in mutual enrichment and attraction. Behind differences in social structure, in the way of life, and in the preference for certain values, stand interests. There is no getting away from that, but neither is there any getting away from the need to find a balance of interests within an international framework, which has become a condition for survival and progress. As you ponder all this, you come to the conclusion that if we wish to take account of the lessons of the past and the realities of the present, if we must reckon with the objective logic of world development, it is necessary to seek -- and the seek jointly -- an approach toward improving the international situation and building a new world. If that is so, then it is also worth agreeing on the fundamental and truly universal prerequisites and principles for such activities. It is evident, for example, that force and the threat of force can no longer be, and should not be instruments of foreign policy. [...]

The compelling necessity of the principle of freedom of choice is also clear to us. The failure to recognize this, to recognize it, is fraught with very dire consequences, consequences for world peace. Denying that right to the peoples, no matter what the pretext, no matter what the words are used to conceal it, means infringing upon even the unstable balance that is, has been possible to achieve.

Freedom of choice is a universal principle to which there should be no exceptions. We have not come to the conclusion of the immutability of this principle simply through good motives. We have been led to it through impartial analysis of the objective processes of our time. The increasing varieties of social development in different countries are becoming in ever more perceptible feature of these processes. This relates to both the capitalist and socialist systems. The variety of sociopolitical structures which has grown over the last decades from national liberation movements also demonstrates this. This objective fact presupposes respect for other people's vies and stands, tolerance, a preparedness to see phenomena that are different as not necessarily bad or hostile, and an ability to learn to live side by side while remaining different and not agreeing with one another on every issue.

The de-ideologization of interstate relations has become a demand of the new stage. We are not giving up our convictions, philosophy, or traditions. Neither are we calling on anyone else to give up theirs. Yet we are not going to shut ourselves up within the range of our values. That would lead to spiritual impoverishment, for it would mean renouncing so powerful a source of development as sharing all the original things created independently by each nation. In the course of such sharing, each should prove the advantages of his own system, his own way of life and values, but not through words or propaganda alone, but through real deeds as well. That is, indeed, an honest struggle of ideology, but it must not be carried over into mutual relations between states. Otherwise we simply will not be able to solve a single world problem; arrange broad, mutually advantageous and equitable cooperation between peoples; manage rationally the achievements of the scientific and technical revolution; transform world economic relations; protect the environment; overcome underdevelopment; or put an end to hunger, disease, illiteracy, and other mass ills. Finally, in that case, we will not manage to eliminate the nuclear threat and militarism.

Such are our reflections on the natural order of things in the world on the threshold of the 21st century. We are, of course, far from claiming to have infallible truth, but having subjected the previous realities -- realities that have arisen again -- to strict analysis, we have come to the conclusion that it is by precisely such approaches that we must search jointly for a way to achieve the supremacy of the common human idea over the countless multiplicity of centrifugal forces, to preserve the vitality of a civilization that is possible that only one in the universe. [...]

Our country is undergoing a truly revolutionary upsurge. The process of restructuring is gaining pace; We started by elaborating the theoretical concepts of restructuring; we had to assess the nature and scope of the problems, to interpret the lessons of the past, and to express this in the form of political conclusions and programs. This was done. The theoretical work, the re-interpretation of what had happened, the final elaboration, enrichment, and correction of political stances have not ended. They continue. However, it was fundamentally important to start from an overall concept, which is already now being confirmed by the experience of past years, which has turned out to be generally correct and to which there is no alternative.

In order to involve society in implementing the plans for restructuring it had to be made more truly democratic. Under the badge of democratization, restructuring has now encompassed politics, the economy, spiritual life, and ideology. We have unfolded a radical economic reform, we have accumulated experience, and from the new year we are transferring the entire national economy to new forms and work methods. Moreover, this means a profound reorganization of production relations and the realization of the immense potential of socialist property.

In moving toward such bold revolutionary transformations, we understood that there would be errors, that there would be resistance, that the novelty would bring new problems. We foresaw the possibility of breaking in individual sections. However, the profound democratic reform of the entire system of power and government is the guarantee that the overall process of restructuring will move steadily forward and gather strength.

We completed the first stage of the process of political reform with the recent decisions by the U.S.S.R. Supreme Soviet on amendments to the Constitution and the adoption of the Law on Elections. Without stopping, we embarked upon the second stage of this. At which the most important task will be working on the interaction between the central government and the republics, settling relations between nationalities on the principles of Leninist internationalism bequeathed to us by the great revolution and, at the same time, reorganizing the power of the Soviets locally. We are faced with immense work. At the same time we must resolve major problems.

We are more than fully confident. We have both the theory, the policy and the vanguard force of restructuring a party which is also restructuring itself in accordance with the new tasks and the radical changes throughout society. And the most important thing: all peoples and all generations of citizens in our great country are in favor of restructuring.

We have gone substantially and deeply into the business of constructing a socialist state based on the rule of law. A whole series of new laws has been prepared or is at a completion stage. Many of them come into force as early as 1989, and we trust that they will correspond to the highest standards from the point of view of ensuring the rights of the individual. Soviet democracy is to acquire a firm, normative base. This means such acts as the Law on Freedom of Conscience, on glasnost, on public associations and organizations, and on much else. There are now no people in places of imprisonment in the country who have been sentenced for their political or religious convictions. It is proposed to include in the drafts of the new laws additional guarantees ruling out any form or persecution on these bases. Of course, this does not apply to those who have committed real criminal or state offenses: espionage, sabotage, terrorism, and so on, whatever political or philosophical views they may hold.

The draft amendments to the criminal code are ready and waiting their turn. In particular, those articles relating to the use of the supreme measure of punishment are being reviewed. The problem of exit and entry is also being resolved in a humane spirit, including the case of leaving the country in order to be reunited with relatives. As you know, one of the reasons for refusal of visas is citizens' possession of secrets. Strictly substantiated terms for the length of time for possessing secrets are being introduced in advance. On starting work at a relevant institution or enterprise, everyone will be made aware of this regulation. Disputes that arise can be appealed under the law. Thus the problem of the so-called "refuseniks" is being removed.

We intend to expand the Soviet Union's participation in the monitoring mechanism on human rights in the United Nations and within the framework of the pan-European process. We consider that the jurisdiction of the International Court in The Hague with respect to interpreting and applying agreements in the field of human rights should be obligatory for all states.

Within the Helsinki process, we are also examining an end to jamming of all the foreign radio broadcasts to the Soviet Union. On the whole, our credo is as follows: Political problems should be solved only by political means, and human problems only in a humane way. [...]

Now about the most important topic, without which no problem of the coming century can be resolved: disarmament. [...]

Today I can inform you of the following: The Soviet Union has made a decision on reducing its armed forces. In the next two years, their numerical strength will be reduced by 500,000 persons, and the volume of conventional arms will also be cut considerably. These reductions will be made on a unilateral basis, unconnected with negotiations on the mandate for the Vienna meeting. By agreement with our allies in the Warsaw Pact, we have made the decision to withdraw six tank divisions from the GDR, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, and to disband them by 1991. Assault landing formations and units, and a number of others, including assault river-crossing forces, with their armaments and combat equipment, will also be withdrawn from the groups of Soviet forces situated in those countries. The Soviet forces situated in those countries will be cut by 50,000 persons, and their arms by 5,000 tanks. All remaining Soviet divisions on the territory of our allies will be reorganized. They will be given a different structure from today's which will become unambiguously defensive, after the removal of a large number of their tanks. [...]

By this act, just as by all our actions aimed at the demilitarization of international relations, we would also like to draw the attention of the world community to another topical problem, the problem of changing over from an economy of armament to an economy of disarmament. Is the conversion of military production realistic? I have already had occasion to speak about this. We believe that it is, indeed, realistic. For its part, the Soviet Union is ready to do the following. Within the framework of the economic reform we are ready to draw up and submit our internal plan for conversion, to prepare in the course of 1989, as an experiment, the plans for the conversion of two or three defense enterprises, to publish our experience of job relocation of specialists from the military industry, and also of using its equipment, buildings, and works in civilian industry, It is desirable that all states, primarily the major military powers, submit their national plans on this issue to the United Nations.

It would be useful to form a group of scientists, entrusting it with a comprehensive analysis of problems of conversion as a whole and as applied to individual countries and regions, to be reported to the U.N. secretary-general, and later to examine this matter at a General Assembly session.

Finally, being on U.S. soil, but also for other, understandable reasons, I cannot but turn to the subject of our relations with this great country. ... Relations between the Soviet Union and the United States of America span 5 1/2 decades. The world has changed, and so have the nature, role, and place of these relations in world politics. For too long they were built under the banner of confrontation, and sometimes of hostility, either open or concealed. But in the last few years, throughout the world people were able to heave a sigh of relief, thanks to the changes for the better in the substance and atmosphere of the relations between Moscow and Washington.

No one intends to underestimate the serious nature of the disagreements, and the difficulties of the problems which have not been settled. However, we have already graduated from the primary school of instruction in mutual understanding and in searching for solutions in our and in the common interests. The U.S.S.R. and the United States created the biggest nuclear missile arsenals, but after objectively recognizing their responsibility, they were able to be the first to conclude an agreement on the reduction and physical destruction of a proportion of these weapons, which threatened both themselves and everyone else.

Both sides possess the biggest and the most refined military secrets. But it is they who have laid the basis for and are developing a system of mutual verification with regard to both the destruction and the limiting and banning of armaments production. It is they who are amassing experience for future bilateral and multilateral agreements. We value this.

We acknowledge and value the contribution of President Ronald Reagan and the members of his administration, above all Mr. George Shultz. All this is capital that has been invested in a joint undertaking of historic importance. It must not be wasted or left out of circulation. The future U.S. administration headed by newly elected President George Bush will find in us a partner, ready -- without long pauses and backward movements -- to continue the dialogue in a spirit of realism, openness, and goodwill, and with a striving for concrete results, over an agenda encompassing the key issues of Soviet-U.S. relations and international politics.

We are talking first and foremost about consistent progress toward concluding a treaty on a 50 percent reduction in strategic offensive weapons, while retaining the ABM Treaty; about elaborating a convention on the elimination of chemical weapons -- here, it seems to us, we have the preconditions for making 1989 the decisive year; and about talks on reducing conventional weapons and armed forces in Europe. We are also talking about economic, ecological and humanitarian problems in the widest possible sense. [...]

We are not inclined to oversimplify the situation in the world. Yes, the tendency toward disarmament has received a strong impetus, and this process is gaining its own momentum, but it has not become irreversible. Yes, the striving to give up confrontation in favor of dialogue and cooperation has made itself strongly felt, but it has by no means secured its position forever in the practice of international relations. Yes, the movement toward a nuclear-free and nonviolent world is capable of fundamentally transforming the political and spiritual face of the planet, but only the very first steps have been taken. Moreover, in certain influential circles, they have been greeted with mistrust, and they are meeting resistance.

The inheritance of inertia of the past are continuing to operate. Profound contradictions and the roots of many conflicts have not disappeared. The fundamental fact remains that the formation of the peaceful period will take place in conditions of the existence and rivalry of various socioeconomic and political systems. However, the meaning of our international efforts, and one of the key tenets of the new thinking, is precisely to impart to this rivalry the quality of sensible competition in conditions of respect for freedom of choice and a balance of interests. In this case it will even become useful and productive from the viewpoint of general world development; otherwise; if the main component remains the arms race, as it has been till now, rivalry will be fatal. Indeed, an ever greater number of people throughout the world, from the man in the street to leaders, are beginning to understand this.

Esteemed Mr. Chairman, esteemed delegates: I finish my first speech at the United Nations with the same feeling with which I began it: a feeling of responsibility to my own people and to the world community. We have met at the end of a year that has been so significant for the United Nations, and on the threshold of a year from which all of us expect so much. One would like to believe that our joint efforts to put an end to the era of wars, confrontation and regional conflicts, aggression against nature, the terror of hunger and poverty, as well as political terrorism, will be comparable with our hopes. This is our common goal, and it is only by acting together that we may attain it.

Thank you.


Putin Meets Pope at Vatican

BBC News
Wednesday, 5 November, 2003

Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced hope for improved understanding between the Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches, following an audience with Pope John Paul II. However, Mr Putin said he did not expect the Pope to visit Russia soon.

The churches have been separated for 1,000 years

"I see my objective not in helping to get the pope to Russia but in helping steps towards unity. And naturally this is possible only if there is an understanding between churches," he said.

The Russian leader is due to attend an EU-Russia summit on Thursday.

Missionary row

The BBC's David Willey in Rome says relations between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches are tense, because the Russian authorities have expelled some Catholic priests and refused re-entry visas to others.

He says Mr Putin is unlikely to renew an invitation extended to the Pope by Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev because of opposition by the head of the Orthodox Church in Moscow.

The Russian Patriarch, Alexei, accuses the Pope of seeking converts inside Russia and has steadfastly refused to meet the Pope unless the Vatican changes its missionary policies, which is very unlikely.

Earlier, Mr Putin met President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who praised him for promoting economic reform in Russia.

Italy is Russia's second-biggest trading partner after Germany, and Mr Putin has developed a close personal friendship with Mr Berlusconi.

The Russian leader has already visited Italy this year, spending three days at Mr Berlusconi's villa on the island of Sardinia.


DEATH OF JOHN PAUL II

Clergy, Dignitaries Pay Respects to Pope
CNN
Apr 3, 2005

  • Time of death: 9:37 p.m. in Rome; 2:37 p.m. Eastern; 19:37 GMT, April 2, 2005
  • Age at time of death: 84 years
  • Death announcement: Archbishop Leonardo Sandri
  • Vatican protocol: "All the procedures that were foreseen in the Apostolistic consitution (Universi Dominici Gregis) that were put forth by John Paul II on the 22 February 1996 have been launched." --

    VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Cardinals, archbishops and diplomatic dignitaries solemnly filled the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace to pay their respects Sunday to Pope John Paul II, his body dressed in red and white Papal robes with his bishop's staff under one arm.

    The Pope's body will be moved Monday to the Sala Bologna at St. Peter's Basilica, where the Pontiff will lie in state until his funeral, to be held in four to six days.

    The Pope died from septic shock and cardiocirculatory collapse, the Vatican said Sunday.

    Earlier Sunday, tens of thousands of mourners filled St. Peter's Square for the first of nine elaborate Masses marking the death of the Pope.

    "We entrust with confidence to the risen Christ, Lord of life and history, our beloved John Paul II who for 27 years guided the universal church as the successor of Peter," said the Mass's celebrant, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

    Sodano said he was at the Pope's bedside as he died, and that the pontiff died serenely.

    "Serenity is the fruit of faith," he added.

    Elsewhere, other bishops and cardinals uttered similar words praising the life and papacy of the man who came to Rome as Cardinal Karol Wojtyla at age 58, leaving the city Saturday evening at 84.

    "Pope John Paul has finished the course, has run the race, has kept the faith," said Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, at Westminster Cathedral in London. "Farewell, Pope John Paul, as the thoughts, the memories and the prayers of the world and of all Christian people go with you."

    Rome police, who are used to handling large throngs at the Vatican, were bracing for up to 2 million people during that city's three days of official mourning through the time a new pope is announced.

    As condolences poured in from around the world, plans also were being laid for the Pope's burial and the selection of his successor.

    The first General Congregation of Cardinals was to meet at 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) Monday in the Apostolic Palace to make decisions on the burial time and other details.

    The Vatican has not said if John Paul II left instructions for his funeral or burial. Most popes have asked to be buried below St. Peter's Basilica. But the Polish-born pope may have wanted to be laid to rest in his homeland.

    Within 20 days of John Paul II's death, Catholic cardinals from across the globe will gather to participate in a sacred ritual that, for many of them, could be a once-in-a-lifetime event -- the election of a new pope.

    There were 24-hour vigils and special services in many major cities following the pope's death Saturday night.

    "I feel like a daughter who lose her father," one young woman told CNN in St. Peter's Square.

    The 84-year-old pope died Saturday night in his private apartment.

    The pope's condition began deteriorating rapidly Thursday, after a urinary tract infection caused a high fever and led to septic shock and collapse of his cardiocirculatory system.

    He suffered from a number of chronic illnesses, including crippling hip and knee ailments and Parkinson's disease, a progressive neurological disorder that can make breathing and swallowing difficult.

    "The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd," U.S. President George Bush said at the White House, with his wife, Laura, standing alongside him. "The world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home.

    "We will always remember the humble, wise and fearless priest who became one of history's great moral leaders."

    Bush ordered the U.S. flags at all federal buildings and facilities to be flown at half-staff until sunset on the day of the pope's interment.

    U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he felt privileged to have met the pope.

    "Quite apart from his role as a spiritual guide to more than a billion men, women and children, he was a tireless advocate of peace, a true pioneer in interfaith dialogue and a strong force for critical self-evaluation by the Church itself," Annan said.

    Lech Walesa, who led Poland's Solidarity movement to power after a decade of struggle, said the Polish-born John Paul inspired the drive to end communism in Eastern Europe.

    "[Without him] there would be no end of communism or at least [it would have happened] much later, and the end would have been bloody," Walesa said.

    "I have a very strange feeling of loss. I almost feel as though one of my family members has gone," evangelist Billy Graham told CNN's Larry King Saturday night.

    "I loved him very much, and had the opportunity of discussing so many things with him, and we wrote each other several times during the years."

    The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, said in a written statement that he had "deep appreciation for the pope's mission to bring peace to the world.

    "In spite of increasing age and declining physical health, his relentless efforts to visit different parts of the world and meet the people who lived there to promote harmony and spiritual values, exemplified not only his deep concern but also the courage he brought to fulfilling it."

    CNN's Christiane Amanpour and Jim Bittermann contributed to this report.


    2005 CNN.


    German Chancellor Wants More Christian EU Constitution

    Christian Today
    by Maria Mackay
    Thursday, August 31, 2006

    The German chancellor has expressed her support for the EU constitution to more closely reflect Europe’s “Christian values”.

    Angela Merkel made the comments following a meeting Monday with Pope Benedict XVI at his summer residence near Rome.

    "We spoke about freedom of religion," she said after the talks. "We spoke about the role of Europe and I emphasised the need for a constitution and that it should refer to our Christian values."

    Her remarks are likely to rekindle the debate on religion in the EU and will give some welcome clout to the pope’s campaign to see Europe’s Christian heritage acknowledged.

    Mrs Merkel – the daughter of a Protestant pastor and leader of the Catholic CDU party – has already expressed her intent to reopen the debate on the inclusion of religious references in the constitution when Germany takes over the EU’s rotating presidency next January.

    Her efforts are likely to be met with strong opposition from secular France and increasingly secular Britain.

    The 2004 negotiations on the constitution were stunted by differences over whether or not references to Christianity would upset Europe’s Muslim and Jewish populations.

    The “intense” talks between Merkel and the pope, meanwhile, were dominated by developments in the Middle East and Iran.

    "We had a very intense exchange on world politics, especially on the Middle East, but also on how the international community should deal with Iran," Merkel said after the hour-long audience which she described as "very impressive”, reported German news agency Deutsche Welle.

    She added: "I was longing to pay this visit to the pope before he comes to Germany in September," she said before the visit. "I'm very glad that it will happen now. The pope is a great leader of Christianity to which my protestant faith also belongs. But I'm also here to express the respect of all Germans which I represent as German chancellor."

    The German chancellor’s meeting with the pope comes ahead of the pontiff’s visit to Germany from 9th to 14th September.


    EU Constitution is a ‘Holy text’

    EUpolitix.com
    Thu 30th Mar 2006
    Bruno Waterfield

    The EU Constitution is a “holy text”, the leader of the European Parliament’s centre right Hans-Gert Poettering told the Pope on Thursday.

    The German MEP used an audience with Pope Benedict XVI to assert the European People’s Party’s Christian and conservative credentials.

    He told the Catholic Pontiff that the spirit of the EU Constitution would live on even if the text could not be resurrected after French and Dutch referendum rejections.

    “[We] fought for a reference to God in the European Constitution. Although we were not successful, we are proud of having done so. The final text does embody essential Christian values,” said Poettering.

    “Whatever the outcome, the EPP group as an advocate of Judaeo-Christian values, is determined about the spiritual and moral dimension of the European project. Encouragement by your holiness for this aim is vitally important.”

    Poettering argues that in an era shaped by the fear of a clash between the west and Islam, religious politicians play a key role.

    “Through initiatives with states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the group aims for new relationships, for which Christians and Muslims can be privileged partners as believers,” he said.

    “We are joined by a guest from Arabia, a sign of the pioneering work which Muslim and Christian Democrats are doing for a God-centred, more ethical world order.”

    “We do not believe in the ‘clash of civilisations’, we believe in cooperation, understanding and partnership, if possible friendship, between cultures and religions.”

    But by using "privileged partnership" wording Poettering hinted at continuing opposition on Europe's right to Turkey's EU membership.

    The EPP celebrates its 30th birthday on Thursday with its 17th congress in Rome.

    EPP president Wilfried Martens sang the praises of Europe’s centre-right bloc – the European parliament’s biggest.

    “The EPP boasts 68 Christian democrat, reform and conservative member parties from 35 European countries and is the most influential political party in all major European institutions,” he said.

    Congress speakers include European commission president José Manuel Barroso and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

    German chancellor Angela Merkel and French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy are also set to show their faces.

    Top of the political agenda will the fate of the EU Constitution, Merkel is expected to re-launch the institutional blueprint in a slimmed down form in early 2007.


    EU Leaders Prepare to Sign Carefully Worded Declaration

    Deutsche Presse-Agentur
    March 25, 2007

    Berlin - European leaders are to sign a declaration in Berlin on Sunday setting out their aims for the continent in a carefully-worded document that marks 50 years of the European Union.

    Although a version of the Berlin Declaration has been in circulation since Friday, the precise wording remained unclear until formal publication at the signing ceremony shortly before noon in the German capital.

    The German government, holders of the current EU presidency, revealed Saturday that Spain had secured a late addition to the text that commits the EU to countering illegal immigration.

    The pope has criticized the Berlin Declaration for failing to mention the Christian values that he sees as the continent's moral foundation.

    Ahead of the signing, Benedict XVI warned of a European 'identity crisis' and spoke of 'apostasy.'

    'Is it not surprising that in today's Europe - which tries to present itself as a community of values - the existence of universal and absolute values is frequently disputed?,' he queried.

    The Berlin Declaration outlines past achievements but avoids explicit mention of contentious issues like the stalled European Constitution and enlargement of the 27-nation bloc.

    According to the widely circulated unofficial text, the declaration instead says Europeans 'are united in our aim of placing the European Union on a renewed common basis' before the European Parliament elections in 2009.

    While the leaders of all 27 member states were present in Berlin - a venue seen as symbolizing Europe's unification after a divided past - the declaration is to be signed by only three.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to sign as current president of the European Council, Jose Manuel Barroso as European Commission president and Hans-Gert Poettering as president of the European Parliament.

    Following the signing ceremony near the Brandenburg Gate, the leaders are to take a brief stroll along the Unter den Linden Boulevard for a luncheon hosted by Merkel at the Hotel de Rome. Bright spring conditions were forecast for the event.

    On Saturday, the chancellor formally welcomed the continent's political leaders to a performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. A banquet hosted by German President Horst Koehler followed.

    The German capital reverberated to the sounds of music ranging from classical to techno into the early hours of Sunday, as Berlin's clubs and museums stayed open well past midnight.

    The party was set to continue on Sunday with an open-air pop concert at the Brandenburg Gate that will see performances by Joe Cocker and other European stars.

    A large demonstration by anti-globalization protestors was also scheduled, watched over by a police presence of some 5,000. Much of the city centre was closed off to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

    The weekend festivities mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome when Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg launched the European Economic Community, the forerunner of the EU.

    © 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur


    Europe Urged to Recognise Christian Heritage

    by Ethan Cole, Christian Today Correspondent
    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    As Europe continues its drift towards secularism with a strong multicultural emphasis, believers were reminded in the past week that the continent has Christian roots.

    As Europe continues its drift towards secularism with a strong multicultural emphasis, believers were reminded in the past week that the continent has Christian roots.

    Two high-profile Christian events last week recalled the impact of Christianity on Europe and the need for its citizens to acknowledge the importance of the faith.

    “Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots,” declared Pope Benedict XVI on Friday, stating that Christianity has “profoundly shaped this continent,” according to The Associated Press.

    Pope Benedict spoke in Vienna, Austria, as part of his three-day pilgrimage to the country which was once the centre of a Roman Catholic-influenced empire but is now a small nation with significant opposition to the church, as is the case with most of Europe.

    In the UK, around 33 per cent believe religion is “very important” in their lives, compared to 27 per cent in Italy, 21 per cent in Germany, 11 per cent in France, and 11 per cent in Czech Republic.

    Thousands of Austrian Catholics have renounced their church affiliation in recent years, citing revulsion with clergy sex scandals and opposition to a highly unpopular government-imposed church tax, according to AP.

    A Gallup opinion poll published in Oesterreich newspaper on Sunday stated that only 47 per cent of Austrians are satisfied with the Pope's way of running the Catholic Church.

    Pope Benedict's trip was partially aimed at reaching out to disillusioned Catholics not only in Austria but across Europe.

    Meanwhile, in the Romanian city of Sibiu, over 2,000 Christian leaders from across Europe gathered to share common visions and hopes for renewal and unity on a continent that both secular and religious press have described as “post-Christian”.

    The Third European Ecumenical Assembly was hosted in a city where the significance of the church in European history can be clearly seen with a Lutheran, Orthodox, Reformed, and Roman Catholic church all located in close proximity.

    During the assembly, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso acknowledged Europe’s Christian roots.

    “Christianity is obviously part of our great heritage in Europe. This is a historic fact,” said Barroso last Thursday, according to Ecumenical News International.

    However, he quickly acknowledged that “it is also true that Europe is made up of diversity”.

    ”We have many Muslims and we also have many people who have no religion at all,” noted Barroso.

    “What would be wrong is to pretend that religion does not exist in our society. That would be a big mistake.”

    The European Union offical also praised churches for promoting unity in Europe.

    “Your churches and confessional communities can contribute, and make a real contribution, to a better understanding between people through promoting mutual respect in a context of shared values,” said Barroso.

    The Third European Ecumenical Assembly, which concluded last Sunday, was organised jointly by the Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference of Europe (CCEE) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) – which groups most Anglican, Protestant and Orthodox Churches in Europe.

    European identity, other faiths, migration, creation, justice and peace were all on the agenda during the ecumenical assembly, alongside questions of unity, spirituality and witness.

    In addition to Barroso, speakers included the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians.


    One Union of Member States under God

    by Colman
    Tue Aug 29th, 2006
    European Tribune and EU Observer

    German chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested Europe needs a Constitution that makes reference to Christianity and God following her audience with Pope Benedict XVI on Monday (29 August).

    "We spoke about freedom of religion," Ms Merkel told journalists following the 45-minute meeting.

    Did you decide whether it was a good or a bad thing?

    She added "I underlined my opinion that we need a European identity in the form of a constitutional treaty and I think it should be connected to Christianity and God, as Christianity has forged Europe in a decisive way," according to press reports.

    As has Europe forged Christianity. Mostly through the influence of its pagan past. Oh, and we should include references to absolute monarchy, discrimination against women and anti-semitism, all of which have also forged Europe in decisive ways.

    The Christian Democrat leader has previously spoken out in favour of reopening the debate on religion in the constitution as the EU considers how to tackle the deadlock after the treaty's rejection by French and Dutch voters last year.

    We'll fix the controversy by making it more controversial. That'll work! While we're at it why don't we include a ban on abortion?

    During earlier negotiations on the content of the new EU charter, Spain, Italy and Poland were among the strongest supporters of a reference to God in the treaty.

    But its opponents argued it could prove controversial in view of Turkey's potential membership of the EU as well as due to the strict separation of state and church in some countries, such as France.

    I don't mind so much the religious references that are in the existing legal structures of existing countries and that have accreted there over the history of the states but the idea of adding an explicit religious reference into a modern constitution like this makes me angry. It's unnecessary, it's divisive and it's an insult to every non-Christian European. (and even thinking Christians too, after all, it's about power rather than religion per se - Comment added).

    Currently, the preamble refers to Europe's religious heritage only in general terms.

    "Drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, the values of which, still present in its heritage, have embedded within the life of society the central role of the human person and his or her inviolable and inalienable rights, and respect for law," it states.

    www.eurotrib.com


    Poettering, Prodi Push for Adoption of EU Treaty

    EUX.TV
    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    Rome (dpa) - European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi called on European leaders meeting in Berlin on Sunday to help "lay the foundations" for the future of Europe and work on a new constitutional treaty.
     
    "We have worked together in perfect harmony to contribute to the preparation of Sunday's Berlin Declaration, which will lay the foundations for the future of European integration," said Prodi as he welcomed Poettering to Rome on Tuesday.

    German-born Poettering said it was necessary to preserve the "substance" of the text of the original constitutional treaty, which was rejected in referenda held in France and the Netherlands two years ago.

    "I hope that in the end we will succeed," Poettering told reporters.

    Poettering is in Rome as part of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which created what is now the European Union. He is due to meet Pope Benedict XVI on Friday.

    Germany, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, has said that it will mark the event with a so-called Berlin Declaration, a statement of values on the bloc's past achievements and future goals to be issued on Sunday.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Rome on Monday as part of her tour of European capitals in a bid to jump-start stalled negotiations on a revamped constitutional treaty.

    Prodi has said he would like the new treaty to be adopted before European parliament elections are held in 2009.


    EU Leaders Adopt Reforms to Strengthen Bloc

    By Lisa Bryant
    VOA News
    13 December 2007

    European Union leaders are adopting a groundbreaking treaty in Lisbon aimed to streamline and grant more powers to the 27-member institution. From Paris, Lisa Bryant reports the document is the result of a lengthy and difficult process.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and FM Steinmeier, 2nd left, chat with Portuguese PM Socrates, right, and FM Amado in Lisbon, 13 Dec 2007

    The new European Union treaty includes plans for a European foreign affairs chief and a more permanent president than the current system, in which the presidency shifts from member country to country every six months. It also aims to streamline the body, by cutting the size of the European Parliament and the number of EU decisions that would require unanimous vote.

    In general, it aims to give the European Union a more effective foreign policy, stronger leadership, and more democratic decision making.

    But it is a lot less ambitious than a charter (rejected EU Constitution) the bloc tried to ratify in 2005. French and Dutch voters rejected the document, blocking its adoption.

    European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering was among many European politicians to hail the new treaty, saying it underscored the bloc's enormous transformation over the years. He talked about the changes he had personally witnessed since joining the European Parliament in 1979.

    "In 1979, the European Parliament had zero," he said, "no legislative power, and already now, before the reform treaty comes into force we are [handling] about 75 percent of European legislation. And with the reform treaty it increases, this co-decision increases, to 100 percent. This is more democracy, this is more parliamentarism and this gives us more the possibility to defend the beliefs, the rights and the ambitions of the citizens of the European Union."

    Pottering also hailed a new charter of fundamental rights for European citizens that comes with the treaty, although not all EU members are signing on to this attachment.

    Most EU governments say a referendum is not necessary to ratify the document - opting for a vote in parliament instead. Only Ireland is constitutionally bound to vote on it. That will make the chances of scuttling this EU treaty much less likely.

     


    Pope meets with Blair to discuss international issues

    By John Thavis
    Catholic News Service

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair has met privately with Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday, fuelling further speculation that he will convert to Catholicism after he steps down from his post next week.

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI met with outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair for talks on international issues, including conflict in the Middle East.

    After the private discussions June 23, the Vatican issued a statement offering "all good wishes" to Blair, who has said he wants to pursue roles as mediator in the Middle East and promoter of interreligious dialogue.

    The pope greeted Blair warmly and sat down for 25 minutes of closed-door talks. Then, in an unusual move, British Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster was invited to join the two for 10 more minutes of discussion.

    Later, Blair met separately with the Vatican's top foreign affairs officials.

    British tabloids have reported that Blair planned to convert to Catholicism sometime soon, but there was no mention of that by the Vatican, and Blair told reporters such talk was premature.

    In that regard, Blair did give the pope an interesting gift -- three photographs of England's most famous convert to Catholicism, Cardinal John Henry Newman. One was autographed by the 19th-century cardinal.

    When Blair asked the Pope about the sainthood cause of Cardinal Newman, the pope replied that it was active but taking some time. He told a smiling Blair: "It is difficult to make miracles in Britain."

    Cardinal Newman's cause needs a miracle attributed to his intercession before beatification -- a step toward sainthood -- can occur.

    The papal meeting came four days before Blair was to step down after 10 years in office. A Vatican statement said the talks had reviewed his tenure and included a "frank examination" of international issues, including the delicate situation in the Middle East.

    In 2003, the Vatican strongly opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq; under Blair, Britain was the United States' main ally in the military action.

    The pope and Blair also discussed the future of the European Union and "certain laws" recently approved in Britain, the Vatican said. There was no elaboration, but the church has sparred with the government recently over the adoption of children by same-sex couples.

    END

    Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service


    Bush hosts Pope at White House

    By Cathy Lynn Grossman
    USA TODAY
    2008-04-15

    Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out about compassion for immigrants.Did you or your ancestors come to America for religious, social or economic reasons? Should religion have a voice in how the U.S. determines its immigration policies?

    WASHINGTON — Pope Benedict XVI arrived Wednesday at the White House, where President Bush had quite a birthday present for him: at least 9,000 excited guests gathered on the White House's South Lawn for a 21-gun salute, a famed soprano's rendition of The Lord's Prayer and an emotional presidential welcome.

    The pontiff turns 81 on Wednesday, the first full day of his first trip to the United States as leader of the world's Roman Catholics. He'll spend most of the day at the White House, only the second pope to do so and the first in 29 years.

    In remarks during pomp-filled festivities that have had Washington aflutter for days, Bush was to tell the pontiff and the crowd how glad America is to have him visit — and to tell Americans they should listen to his words.

    Benedict XVI kicked off his first U.S. visit as pope Tuesday by addressing the most painful issue facing the Roman Catholic Church in this country, saying he is "deeply ashamed" over the clergy sex-abuse scandal.

    Benedict, who turns 81 today, spoke on the topic during his flight to Andrews Air Force Base, where he was greeted with a chorus of Happy Birthday from Catholic schoolchildren waiting on the tarmac. President Bush, first lady Laura Bush and their daughter Jenna shook hands with Benedict at the base of the steps of his jetliner.

    Benedict, dressed in white vestments, raised his arms to a crowd of about 1,000 guests, drawing cries of "Viva il Papa" ("Long live the Pope") before the Bush family escorted him to a visitor's center.

    Even before his jet landed, he spoke of the sex-abuse issue.

    "It is a great suffering for the church in the United States and for the church in general, and for me personally, that this could happen," he said.

    "It is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betray in this way their mission … to these children. I am deeply ashamed, and we will do what is possible so this cannot happen again in the future," he said.

    U.S. VISIT: Pontiff to meet, talk issues with U.N. Chief

    Abuse victims found little solace in his words, said David Clohessy, director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "Soothing words and pledges to do better ring somewhat hollow at this juncture. He's a global monarch with extraordinary power to take action," Clohessy said.

    Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican's U.S. ambassador, who said the pope would speak "more than once" about the crisis, declined to say whether Benedict would meet with any victims during this visit.

    This morning, the pope is scheduled to visit the White House. Later in the day, he will address the nation's Catholic bishops and make an appearance in the "Popemobile."

    On Tuesday, Maureen Ward, 61, of Bronxville wiped tears from her eyes as she watched the pope walk down the red carpet leading from the jet. She and her husband were guests of a son who works for the White House.

    "We all loved John Paul II," she said. "He was just so outgoing and dynamic, had a real human touch. He knew how to grasp the moment and take advantage of it. We'll see if this pope can do that, too. I think it's going to be very different."

    His six-day tour includes a Mass at Washington's Nationals Park on Thursday and a visit to Ground Zero in New York City on Sunday, directly followed by a Mass at Yankee Stadium.

    Benedict's words on the abuse scandal pleased some Catholics.

    "Benedict knows full well the extent of the problem and how much people need to hear this. … It reassures us that he understands," Amy Welborn, who writes a blog on Catholic issues, said in an interview.

    Contributing: Shawn Cohen and Gary Stern, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News; and the Associated Press


    French President Sarkozy meets with Pope

    Catholic World News

    Vatican, Dec. 20, 2007 (CWNews.com) - French President Nicholas Sarkozy met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on December 20, and as expected, issued a formal invitation for the Pope to visit France next year.

    Sarkozy -- who was making his first visit to Rome as president of France, after assuming power in May -- spoke for about 25 minutes with the Holy Father. Later he met separately with Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State.

    Both the Vatican and a French government spokesman said that the talks had been cordial and productive. The Pope spoke with Sarkozy about the relationship between faith and politics in France, and about international affairs, particularly the conflicts in Lebanon and in the Holy Land. President Sarkozy arrived about 15 minutes late for the papal audience, reportedly because of a delay in his flight from Paris. After his meetings with Vatican officials he toured the excavations in St. Peter's Basilica, stopping to pray at the tomb of Pope John Paul II. Vatican diplomats had been looking forward with interest to the visit from Sarkozy, who is viewed in Rome as a French leader open to serious discussion on the country's tradition of secularity in government -- a tradition that has been corrupted, in the eyes of the Vatican, into an active hostility toward religious faith. The Vatican's interest in Sarkozy was whetted when the new French president sent a long, thoughtful letter to Pope Benedict XVI in response to the Pontiff's message of congratulations on his electoral victory.

    Sarkozy's personal life has raised eyebrows, both in France and in Rome, since his ascent to power. The French president has separated from his wife, and has been regularly seen in the company of a former Italian model, Carla Bruni. But Bruni did not accompany Sarkozy on this week's trip to Rome.


    German Chancellor, Pope discuss Europe, Middle East

    Catholic World News

    Aug. 28, 2006 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI met on August 28 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. After their 45-minute conversation, the German leader told reporters that the "very intense" discussion had focused on the problems facing Europe and the Middle East.

    Merkel said that one important theme of her talk with the Pontiff was the question of religious freedom, which they discussed in different context: in terms of the conflict in the Middle East and also in terms of contemporary European secularism.

    "I explained to the Pope that I favor the idea of a European identity founded on a constitutional accord, and in my view, it should be tied to Christianity and to God, because Christianity formed Europe in a decisive manner," said Merkel.

    The German chancellor, who is the daughter of a Protestant minister, comes from a background in the Christian Democratic Union. And her views on European identity will take on new importance next year, as Germany assumes the rotating presidency of the European Union in 2007.

    The talks at Castel Gandolfo also included some discussion of Iran's aspirations to nuclear power, Merkel told the press. She said that they spoke about how the world should react to Iran's ambitions, and to the influence of the Islamic state on Hezbollah's aggressive presence in Lebanon.

    Merkel said that her exchange of views with the Pope "will continue in Munich" when the Pope visits Bavaria in September. She will meet with the Holy Father officially on September 9, the day of his arrival.

    The audience late Monday morning took place in cordial and informal atmosphere, according to informed observers. Among the German officials who accompanied the chancellor was Christoph Heusgen, the diplomat who will handle security arrangements for the Papal trip to Bavaria.


    Italian Premier Visits Pope

    Catholic World News

    Vatican, Oct. 13, 2006 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI met on October 13 with Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi, for a conversation on issues including bioethics, inter-religious dialogue, the situation in the Middle East, and the Christian heritage of Europe.

    Prodi was making his first visit to the Vatican since coming to power when his center-left coalition won parliamentary elections in April of this year. They met privately in the Pope's office for about 35 minutes, after which the Italian leader met with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

    In an interview published on October 12 by a Lebanese newspaper, Prodi had defended the Pope's speech in Regensburg, arguing that the Pontiff had been seeking to set out the necessary conditions for productive inter-religious dialogue. The Italian premier said that he would speak with the Pope about inter-religious dialogue when he visited the Vatican, but added that he did not intend to "give my advice to the Pope." Also on October 12, the Italian senate unanimously adopted a resolution expressing solidarity with the Pontiff in the face of "unjust attacks and unacceptable threats" from Islamic militants.

    The Italian senate resolution encouraged the government vigorously to defend "the principles of religious liberty" and the cause of genuine dialogue. The lawmakers called upon interior minister Giuliano Amato to be energetic in efforts to secure the security of the Pontiff and of Church properties in Italy.


    Pope Sees Hope and "shadows" in Europe's Future

    Catholic World News

    May. 5, 2006 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI discussed the "shadows" over the future of Europe, as he met on May 5 with José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission.

    The 20-minute discussion between the Pontiff and the Portuguese leader involved "the current state of the European Union, the challenges awaiting it, and its future prospects," according to a statement released by the Vatican after the meeting. The Vatican said that the two men "agreed that, despite current shadows, the process of integration and consolidation of European institutions may be regarded with hope."

    Barroso, a former Portuguese prime minister, was became president of the European Commission last November, for a 5-year term. He had been chosen in June 2004 by the leaders of the 25 member-states of the European Union, and approved by the European Parliament in July of the same year.

    Pope Benedict XVI, like his predecessor John Paul II, has taken a keen interest in the unification of Europe, and particularly in the recognition of the continent's religious heritage. During his May 5 talk with Barroso, the Pontiff reportedly underlined the contributions that Christians can make to Europe's future.

    After his meeting with the Pope, Barroso did not meet with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, as would ordinarily be the case of visiting government leaders. Instead he met with Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Secretary for Relations with States.

    In his own remarks after the meeting with Pope Benedict, Barroso said that the Pontiff's trip to Turkey in November is "very important" for the future of Europe. He noted that the Holy See does not oppose Turkey's bid for entry into the European Union, but insists that the Ankara government must protect the religious liberty of its people.

    That is an important point for Europe in general, Barroso told the Ansa news service, because "all candidates that want to be members of the European community are required to confirm to the principle of religious freedom with scrupulous respect." Nevertheless, he said, because of the Pope's leading voice on religious matters, the November visit to Istanbul could have an important impact on "relations between Turkey and the other countries of Europe."

    Barroso confirmed that during their talk, Pope Benedict had stressed the moral principles on which European culture is based, "and the need to reinforce those principles." He said that he received that message attentively, on behalf of the European Commission. In fact, the Portuguese political leader said, he found the Pope's message "very encouraging," since it helped to put current European issues in the proper perspective. "The Catholic Church," he observed, "has that tradition and that vocation of seeing the long term."

    "We have certain problems in Europe today," Barroso said. "But Europe is much stronger today than 10 years ago."


    Call for Ambitious Treaty Marks EU’s 50th Anniversary

    DAWN International
    March 25, 2007


    BERLIN, March 24: Europe’s longest-serving leader urged the European Union to finalise an ambitious reform treaty by the end of the year as leaders from 27 member states gathered in Berlin on Saturday to celebrate the bloc’s 50th anniversary.

    Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker told German radio that under an “ideal timetable” the draft of a new treaty would be completed during Portugal’s presidency in the second half of 2007.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel starts her drive to relaunch the charter at the weekend summit which takes place half a century after the bloc’s founding Treaty of Rome.

    Festivities are being staged around Europe and the once-divided German capital is hosting two days of street parties, all-night museum shows and open nightclubs.

    On Sunday, Merkel will unveil the “Berlin Declaration”, a statement on the bloc’s values and achievements she hopes will generate new momentum for European unity after French and Dutch voters rejected the first EU constitution in 2005.

    The two-page statement, seen by Reuters, sets a 2009 deadline for giving the bloc a “renewed common basis” – code for institutional reforms meant to give the bloc a long-term president and foreign minister, a simpler decision-making system and more say for the European and national parliaments.

    However, in a reflection of deep divisions about how to move forward, the declaration makes no specific reference to the constitution and avoids mentioning future enlargement – one factor behind the French and Dutch “no” votes.

    ‘APOSTASY’

    In a speech to European bishops on Saturday, Pope Benedict accused the EU of apostasy for refusing to mention Christianity in the Berlin Declaration.

    Asking how leaders could hope to get closer to their citizens if they denied such an essential part of European identity, the head of the Roman Catholic Church said: “Does not this unique form of apostasy of itself, even before God, lead it (Europe) to doubt its very identity?”

    The advent of Eurosceptical governments in Prague and Warsaw, as well as persistent public opposition in Britain, the Netherlands and France, mean Merkel’s efforts to launch new treaty negotiations will be fraught with difficulty.

    “The Netherlands believes that treaty changes are needed, but we don’t need something called a constitution,” Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told reporters in Berlin.

    Public support for membership has declined in many states because of fears the EU is failing to protect workers from globalisation, eroding national identities and meddling excessively in national affairs.

    A poll taken for the Eurosceptical Open Europe think-tank found nearly half of citizens in the euro zone would rather go back to the old national currencies they gave up in 2002.

    The German chancellor and her 26 fellow EU leaders are to begin the celebrations at a gala concert on Saturday when Simon Rattle conducts the Berlin Philharmonic in “Folk Songs” by Italian composer Luciano Berio and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.

    Then German President Horst Koehler will host a dinner for the leaders at his Schloss Bellevue residence.

    On Sunday morning, Merkel, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering will sign the declaration at a ceremony.

    “We are very happy to host this summit in Berlin, a city that symbolises what Europe has achieved over the past 50 years,” Merkel told reporters.

    —Reuters


    POPE MEETS ITALIAN LEADER

    Catholic World News
    Jul. 04, 1996

    VATICAN (CWN) -- Pope John Paul today received Romano Prodi, the new Italian president, at the Vatican. Prodi is the ninth Italian president to arrive at the Vatican during John Paul's pontificate.

    The meeting was the second one; on May 19, the newly elected Prodi rushed to the Rome airport to meet the Pontiff as he returned from a pastoral trip to Slovenia; the Italian politician explained that he wished to make that meeting the first official act of his administration.

    According to the Vatican press office, the main themes that were discussed during the private, 50-minute talk were the same as those which they mentioned in their public statements. For the Pope, the most important issues were "the defense of the right to life for everyone, from conception to the end of life;" the promotion of "an organic politics favorable to family life;" and an educational system that would provide equitable treatment for students at both public and private schools. The Holy Father also mentioned his hopes for collaboration with the Italian government in preparing the celebrate the Jubilee Year 2000.

    President Prodi, for his part, spoke of "the reconstruction of the democratic state after a grave crisis of morality in public life, and the assurance of liberty and social dignity for all citizens." Underlining the importance of the secular state, Prodi nonetheless paid homage to "the witness of the Church in a society that is ever more secular."

    Prodi insisted that Italy plays a crucial role in the European community. "Without our country, I think Europe would be a divided continent," he said. And he mentioned the country's important role in "defending the patrimony of all Europe, as well as the patrimony of the Apostolic See."

    Among the major Italian newspapers, only la Repubblica commented on the meeting in its morning editions. An editorial pointed out that Prodi represents the first leader from the center-left of the political spectrum who has ever presided over the Italian republic, and observed that his visit to the Vatican was in part an effort to gain the confidence of Church leaders. The Prodi cabinet has fallen under suspicion among some prelates, who look askance at the number of former Communists-and some who still are Communists-in the ruling party.


    Sarkozy and Pope Discuss Religion

    Global Catholic News

    VATICAN CITY, DEC. 20, 2007 Zenit.org.- Benedict XVI and the President of France discussed today the importance of religion in today's world.

    Nicolas Sarkozy visited the Holy Father in his private library for 30 minutes, his first visit to the Pontiff as President of France. Afterward, Sarkozy went on to meet with the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states.

    "Your Holiness, you truly speak excellent French," Sarkozy told him. The two discussed "a number of questions of mutual interest concerning the current situation of France. Mention was made of the good relations that exist between the Catholic Church and the French Republic, and of the role of religions, especially the Catholic Church, in the world," the Vatican press office reported.

    The statement added: "Particular attention was given to the international situation with reference to the future of Europe, the conflicts in the Middle East, the social and political problems of certain African countries, and the drama of hostages.

    "At the end of the conversation, best wishes were exchanged for the forthcoming feasts of Christmas and the New Year."

    Before leaving the Vatican, Sarkozy visited the tomb of Pope John Paul II.


    Blair Meets Pope in Vatican

    by Daniel Blake
    Christian Today
    Saturday, June 23, 2007

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair has met privately with Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday, fuelling further speculation that he will convert to Catholicism after he steps down from his post next week.

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair has met privately with Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday, fuelling further speculation that he will convert to Catholicism after he steps down from his post next week.

    The meeting took place for 25 minutes in the Vatican, and is the final leg of what media have dubbed Blair’s “farewell tour”.

    It has been reported that Blair brought gifts for the Roman Catholic head, one of which was an original photograph of John Henry Newman, a 19th century Anglican leader who was one of Britain's most illustrious converts to Catholicism.

    Following the 25-minute private meeting in the pontiff’s study, the most-senior member of the Roman Catholic Church in England, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, joined the meeting.

    The prime minister’s wife, Cherie Blair, who is already a Catholic, accompanied her husband to the Vatican, and also met the Pope along with a British delegation at the end of the private talks.

    A Vatican statement reveals that Pope Benedict and Blair conversed on various international situations, including Europe and the Middle East.

    The statement told how the Vatican welcomed Blair’s intentions to work towards peace in the Middle East region, and to promote inter-religious dialogue when he steps down as prime minister.

    In an interview with the Times on Saturday, when asked if he would convert, Blair answered: "I don't want to talk about it. It's difficult with some of these things. Things aren't always as resolved as they might be."


    Brown to Meet the Pope

    Telegraph
    09/02/2007

    Gordon Brown will raise his international profile today when he meets Pope Benedict XVI for the first time.

    The Chancellor, who will be in Rome to promote investment in vaccinations against common diseases in poor countries, has been called in by the Pope to discuss the plan. Mr Brown, the son of a Church of Scotland minister, will also meet Paul Wolfowitz, the President of the World Bank and Romano Prodi, the Italian prime minister.

    Over the past three years Mr Brown has worked hard to build his reputation on the world stage as he prepares for Tony Blair to step down as Prime Minister.


    Benedict XVI meets with President of Poland

    Vatican City, Apr 4, 2007
    Catholic News Agency (CNA)

    . Pope Benedict XVI met on Monday with the president of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, who was visiting Rome for the celebrations in honor of John Paul II, the second anniversary of his death and the closing of the diocesan phase of his cause of beatification.

    During an interview for Vatican Radio’s Polish programming, Kaczynski said it was a “private meeting” during which he spoke with the Holy Father “as a member of the faithful.”

    “Obviously we spoke about the cause of beatification of John Paul II.  I reiterated again the enormous significance this event will have for Poland, although we also spoke about questions related to the European Constitution and the presence of Christian roots in the Constitutional Treaty.”  He said he told the Holy Father, “We will remain faithful to our promises regarding this,” but that he could not “guarantee” the outcome.


    Benedict XVI meets Dalai-Lama

    Wikinews
    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    The 14th and current Dalai Lama.

    The very long lasting previous Pope, John Paul II, had met eight times with the Dalai Lama but the recently elected Pope did not talk to him before yesterday.

    The visit was "private" and focused exclusively on "religious" matters, a Vatican spokesman said.

    Pope Benedictus XVI.

    The Vatican has kept a low profile on past visits by the Dalai Lama, including his last in 2003 with John Paul II, to avoid a further chill with China.

    China's government bars Catholics from having contact with the Vatican and allows worship only in government-monitored churches. Millions remain loyal to the Pope and worship in secret, but priests and other members of congregations are frequently detained and harassed.

    The Pope also met with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi earlier in the day, as well as Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski yesterday, both of them were documented on the Vatican's Web site.

    The Pope's meeting with the Tibetan leader was not listed among his official audiences. Journalists were kept well away and no pictures of the encounter have been released. The Vatican has not released any details of the visit.

    ________________
    Note: The former colonies and possessions of the Catholic European colonial powers such as the former Portuguese Colonial Empire, Spain, France, Belgium, etc.


    Pope Receives Kissinger

    Zenit.org - The World Seen From Rome
    ZE06092929 - 2006-09-29

    Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep. 29 .- Benedict XVI received Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. Secretary of State, in a private audience at Castel Gandolfo, reported the Vatican.

    The Vatican press office did not issue any public statement on what was discussed during Thursday's meeting.

    Kissinger, who was Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977, also met with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and President Giorgio Napolitano during his weeklong visit to Rome.

    The German-born American diplomat served as national security advisor and later secretary of state during the presidency of Richard Nixon, a position he continued to hold during the presidency of Gerald Ford.

    In 1973, Kissinger, along with Le Duc Tho of Vietnam, won the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to negotiate the Paris Peace Accords to end the Vietnam War.


    French President Sarkozy Meets With Pope

    The Boston Globe
    Associated Press
    December 21, 2007

    Pope Benedict XVI met French President Nicolas Sarkozy at his private library yesterday in Vatican City.

    VATICAN CITY - French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Pope Benedict XVI yesterday and said he was "personally moved" by his first audience with the pontiff.

    The two men discussed a range of international issues, including "the drama of hostages," an apparent reference to France's efforts to free Ingrid Betancourt, who is being held by Colombian guerrillas, the Vatican said.

    Betancourt is a dual French-Colombian citizen and former Colombian presidential candidate. She has been held for nearly six years, and France has been actively seeking her release.

    The Vatican described the visit as cordial and noted what it called good relations between the French government and the Roman Catholic Church.

    Sarkozy, in 25 minutes of private talks with the pope and in a meeting with the secretary of state of the Holy See, discussed themes of common interest and the role of religion, "in particular the Catholic Church," in the world, the Vatican said.

    Before the visit, a Sarkozy spokesman, David Martinon, described the Vatican as "extremely active and influential" in diplomacy. "It's a partner that counts," he said.


    Bush Calls Meeting Pope A 'Moving Experience'

    CNN
    9 June 2007

    Police use tear gas to disperse demonstrators in Rome
    • President Bush says he felt "awe" in presence of Pope Benedict XVI
    • Bush says they discussed world hunger, AIDS and U.S. immigration
    • Pope expresses to Bush concern about Christians living in Iraq

  • VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- George W. Bush said on Saturday he felt awe in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI, who urged the U.S. president to seek "regional and negotiated" solutions to Middle East conflicts like Iraq.

    "I was talking to a very smart, loving man," Bush said of his first talks with Benedict since he became Pope in 2005.

    "After six-and-a-half years of being a president ... I've been to some unusual places and met some interesting people, and I was in awe," Bush told a joint news conference in Rome with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. "It was a moving experience for me."

    The Pope expressed to Bush a "deep concern" about Christians living in Muslim-majority Iraq.

    "He was concerned that the society that was evolving would not tolerate the Christian religion, and I assured him we were working hard to make sure that people lived up to the constitution -- that modern constitution voted on by the people from different walks of life and different attitudes," Bush said.

    Bush said they also discussed world hunger, HIV/AIDS, malaria and immigration in the United States. Benedict was watching the U.S. immigration debate intently, Bush said.

    A Vatican statement said Benedict and Bush had discussed the Middle East and the Holy See's "hope for a regional and negotiated solution to the conflicts that afflict that region."

    "It's good to be with you, sir," Bush said as he sat before the Pontiff's private desk in the Vatican.

    During the news conference, Bush and Prodi discussed what Prodi described as the "success" of the G8 summit in Germany, which ended Friday.

    "There is an interdependence here ... a need to work together," the Italian prime minister said of the meeting.

    In particular, Prodi lauded the countries' discussions on global warming.

    Although the eight industrialized nations -- United States, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, Germany and Britain -- did not set emission-reduction targets, they agreed to "seriously consider" goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.

    There is a "clear-cut will to move forward" on the issue of global warming, the prime minister said.

    After the press conference, Bush said he planned to meet former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for coffee.

    Prodi beat out the more conservative Italian politician last year in a cliff-hanger election. Asked by a reporter why Bush was meeting with the former Italian leader, Bush said: "He is the opposition leader and he is a friend."

    After Italy, Bush will head to Albania.

    Rome protests

    The Pope also asked Bush about his meeting in Germany with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has criticized a U.S. missile shield in Europe.

    "The dialogue with Putin was also good?" the pope asked.

    Bush, apparently looking at photographers and reporters who were about to be escorted from the room, replied, according to AP: "Umm. I'll tell you in a minute."

    CNN's Ed Henry reported that moving through Rome was difficult Saturday because of security barricades and other restrictions implemented in light of the large anti-war protests going on in the city, where about 10,000 police were on duty.

    Later Saturday, protesters tried to walk down a blocked street and clashed with police, who used tear gas to disperse them. Police estimated there were 12,000 demonstrators in the area.

    John Paul II vigorously opposed the war, which has been raised on occasion by Benedict. In his Easter message, Benedict said "nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees."

    The U.S. president's arrival in Italy Friday coincided with the start of the trial of 33 people -- including 26 Americans. It is the first trial in connection with extraordinary rendition, one of the most controversial aspects of Bush's war on terrorism.

    Copyright 2007 CNN.


    Robert Schuman Nearing Beatification, Exemplified Faith and Politics

    Zenit - The World Seen From Rome
    ZE03051601 - 2003-05-16

    The Man Who Made Possible the EU Might Soon Be a Saint


    ROME, MAY 16, 2003 (Zenit.org).- As former head of the French government, minister, and first president of the European Parliament, Robert Schuman's process for beatification offers testimony to a politician's exemplary life.

    Robert Schuman (1886-1963), the man who made possible the birth of the European Union, might soon be a saint. Jacques Paragon, the postulator of the cause of beatification, announced on May 15, that the diocesan investigation of the cause of beatification is due to conclude, possibly this year.

    Schuman, head of the French government, minister, and author of the May 9, 1950 Declaration -- providing the basis for European construction -- was able to open a new way in international relations based on political negotiation.

    He was the first president of the European Parliament from 1958-1969. Pope Paul VI described him as "an indefatigable pioneer of European unity."

    According to Paragon, "for the father of Europe, Catholicism was not only a faith but a social doctrine," a conviction that very much influenced his political work, "which he understood as a prolongation of his apostolate."

    "His double Franco-German culture is key to understanding his whole view on Europe, on reconciliation and European union," Paragon noted, secretary general of the 'Institut Saint-Benoit,' created to promote Robert Schuman's cause of beatification.

    Jacques Paragon, who was one of Schuman's collaborators, commented on the latter's "anti-militarist" character and said that his involvement in political life was a "response to an interior vocation."

    Paragon mentioned the book by Rene Lejeune, president of the 'Institut,' whose title evokes the central message of the Father of Europe: "Robert Schuman, Father of Europe: Politics, a Way of Holiness."

    In a talk at the St. Louis Center for the French, Paragon summed up this holy man's captivation: "his life shows that political activity is compatible with fidelity to Christian values."


    Papal Address on 50th Anniversary of Treaty of Rome

    "You Have the Duty to Contribute to Building a New Europe"

    Zenit.org

    VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2007.- Here is the Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered last Saturday to the participants in a conference organized by European Bishops' Conferences to mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

    The conference was entitled "50th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome -- Values and Prospects for Tomorrow's Europe."

    * * *

    AUDIENCE WITH THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE CONGRESS
    PROMOTED BY THE COMMISSION OF THE BISHOPS' CONFERENCES
    OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY (COMECE)
    ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

    The Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, 24 March 2007

    Members of the College of Cardinals,
    Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
    Honourable Parliamentarians,
    Ladies and Gentlemen!

    I am happy to receive such a large number of persons at this particular audience taking place on the eve of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, signed on 25 March 1957. This was an important step for Europe, exhausted by the Second World War and eager to build a future of peace and greater economic and social well-being without suppressing or denying its various national identities. I welcome the Most Reverend Adrianus Herman van Luyn, Bishop of Rotterdam, President of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, and I express to him my gratitude for his kind words. I also offer greetings to the other prelates, to the distinguished authorities and to all those taking part in this Convention organised by the COMECE as an invitation to reflect on Europe.

    Since March 1957, this Continent has travelled a long road, which has led to the reconciliation of its two "lungs" - the East and the West - linked by a common history, but arbitrarily separated by a curtain of injustice. Economic integration has stimulated political unification and encouraged the continuing and strenuous search for an institutional structure adequate for a European Union that already numbers 27 nations and aspires to become a global actor on the world scene.

    During these years there has emerged an increasing awareness of the need to establish a healthy balance between the economic and social dimensions, through policies capable of producing wealth and increasing competitiveness, while not neglecting the legitimate expectations of the poor and the marginalized. Unfortunately, from a demographic point of view, one must note that Europe seems to be following a path that could lead to its departure from history. This not only places economic growth at risk; it could also create enormous difficulties for social cohesion and, above all, favour a dangerous form of individualism inattentive to future consequences. One could almost think that the European continent is in fact losing faith in its own future. As regards, for example, respect for the environment or the structured access to energy resources and investments, incentives for solidarity are slow in coming, not only in the international sphere but also in the national one. The process of European unification itself is evidently not shared by all, due to the prevailing impression that various "chapters" in the European project have been "written" without taking into account the aspirations of its citizens.

    From all this it clearly emerges that an authentic European "common home" cannot be built without considering the identity of the people of this Continent of ours. It is a question of a historical, cultural, and moral identity before being a geographic, economic, or political one; an identity comprised of a set of universal values that Christianity helped forge, thus giving Christianity not only a historical but a foundational role vis-à-vis Europe. These values, which make up the soul of the Continent, must remain in the Europe of the third millennium as a "ferment" of civilization. If these values were to disappear, how could the "old" Continent continue to function as a "leaven" for the entire world? If, for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the Governments of the Union wish to "get nearer" to their citizens, how can they exclude an element essential to European identity such as Christianity, with which a vast majority of citizens continue to identify? Is it not surprising that today's Europe, while aspiring to be regarded as a community of values, seems ever more often to deny the very existence of universal and absolute values? Does not this unique form of "apostasy" from itself, even more than its apostasy from God, lead Europe to doubt its own identity? And so the opinion prevails that an "evaluation of the benefits" is the only way to moral discernment and that the common good is synonymous with compromise. In reality, if compromise can constitute a legitimate balance between different particular interests, it becomes a common evil whenever it involves agreements that dishonour human nature.

    A community built without respect for the true dignity of the human being, disregarding the fact that every person is created in the image of God ends up doing no good to anyone. For this reason it seems ever more important that Europe be on guard against the pragmatic attitude, widespread today, which systematically justifies compromise on essential human values, as if it were the inevitable acceptance of a lesser evil. This kind of pragmatism, even when presented as balanced and realistic, is in reality neither, since it denies the dimension of values and ideals inherent in human nature. When non-religious and relativistic tendencies are woven into this pragmatism, Christians as such are eventually denied the very right to enter into the public discussion, or their contribution is discredited as an attempt to preserve unjustified privileges. In this historical hour and faced with the many challenges that confront it, the European Union, in order to be a valid guarantor of the rule of law and an efficient promoter of universal values, cannot but recognize clearly the certain existence of a stable and permanent human nature, source of common rights for all individuals, including those who deny them. In this context, the right to conscientious objection should be protected, every time fundamental human rights are violated.

    Dear friends, I know how difficult it is for Christians to defend this truth of the human person. Nevertheless do not give in to fatigue or discouragement! You know that it is your duty, with God's help, to contribute to the consolidation of a new Europe which will be realistic but not cynical, rich in ideals and free from naïve illusions, inspired by the perennial and life-giving truth of the Gospel. Therefore, be actively present in the public debate on a European level, knowing that this discussion is now an integral part of the national debate. And to this commitment add effective cultural action. Do not bend to the logic of power as an end in itself! May Christ's admonition be a constant stimulus and support for you: "If the salt loses its flavour it is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men." (cf. Mt. 5:13). May the Lord make all your efforts fruitful and help you to recognize and use properly what is positive in today's civilization, while denouncing with courage all that is contrary to human dignity.

    I am certain that God will bless the generous efforts of all who, in a spirit of service, work to build a common European home where every cultural, social and political contribution is directed towards the common good. To you, already involved in different ways in this important human and evangelical undertaking, I express my support and my most fervent encouragement. Above all, I assure you of a place in my prayers. Invoking upon you the maternal protection of Mary, Mother of the Word made Flesh, I cordially bless you and your families and communities.


    Brown to have Meeting with Pope

    BBC News
    Monday, 16 February 2009

    Mr Brown has not met the Pope since becoming Prime Minister
    Gordon Brown is to have an audience with the Pope in the Vatican, Downing Street has said.

    They will discuss "development issues" at Thursday's meeting, the prime minister's spokesman added.

    It will be Mr Brown's first meeting with Benedict XVI since becoming prime minister in 2007, although they met on two occasions when he was chancellor.

    He will also hold talks with Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome on Thursday.

    These will focus on economic issues to be addressed at the G20 summit in London in April.

    Mr Berlusconi is currently chairman of the G7 group of industrialised nations.

    Mr Brown's spokesman said: "The prime minister, not as prime minister but as chancellor, has met the Pope on two previous occasions.

    "No doubt they will want to discuss in particular many of the development issues, which is what they have talked about before."

    Mr Brown will be meeting the heads of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday.


    Pope Benedict Calls for a New World Order

    AAP
    December 27, 2005

    Pope Benedict, in his first Christmas address, on Sunday urged humanity to unite against terrorism, poverty and environmental blight and called for a "new world order" to correct economic imbalances.

    The Pope made his comments to tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered under umbrellas in a rainy St Peter square for his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message and blessing.

    In his address, telecast live from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica to tens of millions of people in nearly 40 countries, he also urged his listeners not to let technological achievements blind them to true human values.

    He said humanity should look to the Christ child for encouragement in times of difficulty and fear.

    "A united humanity will be able to confront the many troubling problems of the present time: from the menace of terrorism to the humiliating poverty in which millions of human beings live, from the proliferation of weapons to the pandemics and the environmental destruction which threatens the future of our planet," he said.

    "Do not fear; put your trust in him! The life-giving power of his light is an incentive for building a new world order based on just ethical and economic relationships," he said, speaking in Italian.

    The address by the leader of the world's some 1.1 billion Roman Catholics was different in style than those of his predecessor John Paul, who died last April.

    John Paul wrote his Christmas addresses in free-style verse and resembled poetry, whereas Benedict's was in prose like a normal homily or speech.

    Since his election, the Pope has repeatedly reminded Catholics not to give in to an "ethical relativism" where circumstances can be used to justify actions that should be considered wrong in all cases.

    The Pope, wearing a gold cape and with a gold mitre, continued in that line on Sunday by beaming in on the dangers of technology and progress, implying that it should not be allowed to become tantamount to a God in its own right.

    "Today we can dispose of vast material resources. But the men and women in our technological age risk becoming victims of their own intellectual and technical achievements, ending up in spiritual barrenness and emptiness of heart," he said.

    "That is why it is so important for us to open our minds and hearts to the birth of Christ, this event of salvation which can give new hope to the life of each human being," he said.

    In other parts of the address he appealed for respect for the rights of people suffering a humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

    He made another appeal for peace in the Holy Land and called for "actions inspired by fairness and wisdom" in Iraq and Lebanon.

    The Pope asked God to favour dialogue on the Korean peninsula so that "dangerous disputes" there and elsewhere in Asia can be solved peacefully.

    The Urbi et Orbi followed a solemn Christmas eve midnight mass attended by a congregation that packed St Peter's Basilica.

    In his homily at that mass he urged the world's Catholics to be beacons of peace in a troubled world and offered a special prayer for an end to strife in the Holy Land.

    The next major event on the Pope's Christmas season calendar is a mass on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. Two days later he will baptise children.

    In early January, the Pope is due to publish his first encyclical, a major writing addressed to all Church members.

    The encyclical, believed to be called "God is Love", deals with the individual's personal relationship with God.


    Those who know what Rome has once been, are best able to appreciate what she is.
    - Hallam, quoted in Ecclesiastical Empire


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