.- The Holy Father received the recently elected president of Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, this morning at the Vatican and expressed his desire for Spain’s spiritual and moral progress.
“Your presence here,” he affirmed, “reflects your desire to continue to maintain good relations with the local Church and the State for the good of the Spanish people, a desire that you expressed to me when I met you at the end of a Mass in Colombus Square in Madrid on May 4 last year.”
John Paul II expressed the desire that Spain “may always continue toward integral progress,” and prayed that “peaceful coexistence in unity among persons and peoples of your great land become ever stronger, with its marvelous and varied diversity, and may cultural and moral values be preserved, as well as your Christian roots.”
The Pope recalled his audience last friday with the new Spanish ambassador to the Holy See, Jorge Dezcallar, in which he had spoken about various aspects of Spanish society, and expressed the need for a cultural struggle to protect human dignity and family life.
“Reaffirming what I said on that occasion,” he said, “I want to renew my sincere gratitude for your visit. I truly hope that your personal commitment, as well as that of your government, may allow you to reach your objectives of fomenting the modern development of Spain, and in that task may ethical values, which are so much a part of the religious and cultural tradition of your people, be taken into consideration.”
The Pope assured the president of the “Holy See's collaboration to work together for the great cause of peace and to promote the spiritual progress of peoples; to help in the eradication of terrorism and violence in all its forms; to achieve the legitimate needs of the human person, with his dignity, rights and freedom.”
In a press conference this afternoon, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the director of the Holy See Press Office revealed that in the meeting this morning the John Paul II and Zapatero “reviewed the principal bilateral relations in light of the Accords between the Holy See and Spain, in particular those of 1979…a desire for dialogue and collaboration was reaffirmed.”
Navarro-Valls also mentioned that “there was an exchange of perspectives on the international situation with a special focus on the European perspective and on the countries of Latin America.”