.- In a message earlier today, the Holy Father welcomed new Georgian ambassador, Princess Khetevane Bagration de Moukhrani to the Holy See and called on believers worldwide to join forces in order to foster authentic social renewal. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of State, received the princess, who presented her Letters of Credence this morning, in the name of the Pope
Cardinal Sodano read the Pope’s welcome speech, which said, "I am very sorry that, because of my convalescence, I am not able to receive you personally to express my best wishes at the moment you are starting your mission."
John Paul II noted his pastoral trip to Georgia in 1999 and the nation's "rich Christian patrimony.”
“I firmly believe”, he wrote, “that the spiritual and cultural values present in the tradition of the Georgian people will not fail to play an important role in promoting a new flourishing of civilization on the roots of Georgia's Christian past and in favoring the consolidation of a society worthy of your noble nation."
The Pope added that "on the path to independence and national rebuilding, Georgia has had to face many and often difficult challenges. ... In addition to the difficult task of setting up robust political and economic structures, Georgians have had to face the duty of keeping firm the sense of unity, while also being open to the broader European and international community"
He underscored that meeting these challenges is only possible "thanks to a wise and prudent equilibrium between the exigencies of unity and respect for legitimate diversity."
The Holy Father said that what is needed "is to develop a solid model of unity in diversity, firmly anchored in the historical experience that is proper to the country, but open at the same time to the enrichment that comes from dialogue and cooperation with others."
The Pope also assured the Georgian ambassador that the Catholic Church, though a minority in Georgia, is anxious "to make her own contribution to the spiritual rebirth of the Nation and to the progress of the common good, not only in realizing her specific religious mission but also through her involvement in works of charity and in promoting cultural exchanges and educational opportunities that favor young people, who are the future of Georgia."
"Today, more than ever," he concluded, "believers are called to join forces to lay solid bases for an authentic social renewal, thus contributing to forming consciences on the paths of peace and respect for the inviolable dignity and the rights of every person."