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Pope John Paul II on Friday told Italy’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Giuseppe Balboni Acqua, that Italy's rich patrimony of religious and spiritual values givers the nation a responsibility in keeping Europe Christian.

The Holy Father underlined “the millennia-old ties that link the See of Peter to the inhabitants of the peninsula, whose rich patrimony of Christian values is a vigorous source of inspiration and identity.”

The Pontiff also recalled that the February 18, 1984, accord between the Italian state and the Vatican “asserts that the Italian Republic ‘recognizes the value of religious culture’, bearing in mind that 'the principles of Catholicism are part of the historical patrimony of the Italian people’.”

“Italy, therefore,” he pointed out, “has a special role to play in working so that Europe, through the competent authorities, recognizes its own Christian roots which are in a position to assure the citizens of the Continent an identity that is not ephemeral or merely based on political-economic interests, but rather on deep and everlasting values”.

“The ethical foundations and ideals which were at the basis of efforts for European unity are even more necessary today if one wishes to offer stability to the institutional profile of the European Union,” he says.

“I wish to encourage the government and all Italian political representatives to pursue the efforts undertaken up to now in this field. May Italy continue to remind her sister nations of the extraordinary religious, cultural and civil heritage that has allowed Europe to be great throughout the centuries,” he added.

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