.- Pope Benedict XVI said he is pleased with recent efforts by Slovenia to address the problem of the “erased.”
In declaring independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, the new Slovenian government “erased” from its citizenship roles the names of tens of thousands of non-ethnic Slovenes who had been living in its territory for years. The move left as many as 25,000 without any basic rights to employment or residency.
Human rights advocates have for nearly 20 years decried the erasure and Slovenia’s apparent unwillingness to correct the injustice as "administrative genocide" and “civic death.”
In an Oct. 22 address to Slovenia’s new Vatican ambassador Maja Marija Lovrencic Svetek, the Pope referred to a recent law that would allow the “erased” to apply for citizenship.
“This is an important step forwards in the attempt to solve the cases of those people who lost the right to residency, work and health care assistance,” the Pope said. “I encourage you to continue in this direction and hope efforts will be made to alleviate their suffering."
The Pope reminded the new ambassador of the “imprint of the moral and spiritual values of Christianity” on Slovenians’ history and character.
He said the recent beatification of Lojze Grozde, a young martyr under the communists, is a sign of the Church’s vitality and commitment to the Gospel. He said Slovenian Catholics would continue to “seek to help everyone, and to deepen the spiritual meaning of life, and wish to contribute to building an ever more just and united society, while respecting the beliefs and religious practices of each individual."