.- Pope Benedict XVI said he is pleased with recent efforts by Slovenia to address the problem of the âerased.â
In declaring independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, the new Slovenian government âerasedâ 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 Sloveniaâs apparent unwillingness to correct the injustice as "administrative genocide" and âcivic death.â
In an Oct. 22 address to Sloveniaâs new Vatican ambassador Maja Marija Lovrencic Svetek, the Pope referred to a recent law that would allow the âerasedâ to apply for citizenship.
âThis 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,â the Pope said. âI 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 âimprint of the moral and spiritual values of Christianityâ on Sloveniansâ history and character.
He said the recent beatification of Lojze Grozde, a young martyr under the communists, is a sign of the Churchâs vitality and commitment to the Gospel. He said Slovenian Catholics would continue to âseek 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."