Last night, on his 84th birthday, Pope John Paul received Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, his wife and an entourage of fellow Poles. He noted that their meeting marks "the 60th anniversary of the battle of Monte Cassino. Every Pole recalls with pride that battle which, thanks to the heroism of the army commanded by General Anders, opened the path to liberation for the allies and for the defeat of the nazi invaders. At Monte Cassino's military cemetery there are tombs with Christian and Greek crosses as well as stones marked with the Star of David. Fallen heroes rest there, joined together by the ideal of fighting for 'our and your freedom', that includes not only love for one's homeland, but also concern for the political and spiritual independence of other nations. Everyone feels the duty to oppose at all costs the physical overpowering of individuals and nations, but also attempts to annihilate their traditions, their culture and their spiritual identity." "I speak of this," said the Holy Father, "to remind everyone that, through the centuries, Europe's spiritual and cultural patrimony was formed and defended even at the cost of the lives of those who believe in Christ and those who in their religious belief go back to Abraham. It seems necessary to remember this in the context of the formation of the constitutional basis of the European Union, of which Poland recently became a member." He underscored that "Poland cannot forget this and must remind those who, in the name of the secular nature of democratic societies, seem to forget the contribution of Christianity in building their own identity." In closing remarks, Pope John Paul told the president that he has been "informed about the current political difficulties in Poland. I hope they can be overcome quickly. I am confident that this will happen in such a way that everyone, especially the poorest, the large families, the unemployed, the sick and the elderly can feel secure in their homeland. It is a difficult task." Source: VIS
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