.- This morning in Castelgandolfo the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Jozef Dravecky, the new ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the Holy See. He encouraged the new diplomat to push for greater protection of the family in his country and the spread of the Christian culture that Slovakia is rooted in.
In his remarks, the Pope recalled how next year marks the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Slovak Republic and the Holy See. The Pontiff’s remarks to the ambassador essentially consisted of comprehensive guidelines for helping revitalize Slovak culture.
Benedict began by thanking Mr. Dravecky for his reassurance that Slovakia is committed to fulfilling the two unresolved points of the "Basic Agreement" between the two States, regarding "conscientious objection and the financing of Church activities." The Holy Father also noted that he was pleased that the points concerning Catholic education and spiritual ministry to Catholics serving in the armed forces, have already been ratified.
On the subject of education, Benedict XVI reiterated the importance of States guaranteeing "the Church the freedom to establish and administer Catholic schools... Indeed, a solid education that nourishes all the dimensions of the human person, including the religious and spiritual, is in the interest of both Church and State. In this way, young people can acquire habits that will enable them to embrace their civic duties as they enter adulthood."
Pope Benedict was also sure to address the growing concern over a rise in the rate of divorce and out of wedlock births in Slovakia. "The family is the nucleus in which a person first learns human love and cultivates the virtues of responsibility, generosity and fraternal concern. Strong families are built on the foundation of strong marriages. Strong societies are built on the foundation of strong families.”
"Far from remaining indifferent to marriage," he added, "the State must acknowledge, respect and support this venerable institution as the stable union between a man and a woman who willingly embrace a life-long commitment of love and fidelity."
"The rich cultural and spiritual heritage of Slovakia holds great potential for revitalizing the soul of the European continent," said the Pope noting how the ambassador had "drawn attention to the heroic sacrifices made by countless men and women in your nation's history who, in times of persecution, labored at great cost to preserve the right to life, religious liberty, and the freedom to place oneself at the charitable service of one's neighbor."
Benedict XVI concluded by expressing the hope that "the celebrations marking the 1150th anniversary of Sts. Cyril and Methodius will renew Slovakia's vigor to bear witness to these timeless values. In this way, she will inspire other member States of the European Union to strive for unity while recognizing diversity, to respect national sovereignty while engaging in joint activity, and to seek economic progress while upholding social justic