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13th Dec 2019

Pope paves the way to Polish "Yes" vote

  • JOHN PAUL II - The Pope's statement was reported by all Polish media. (Photo: Polish government)

Just three weeks before the EU membership referendum in Poland, Pope John Paul II has recommended that his compatriots join the European Union.

"Entry in the EU structures, with equal rights to those of the other countries, is for our nations and for the adjacent Slav nations, an expression of a historical justice," the Pope said in Polish on Monday, 19 May, to thousands of Polish pilgrims who gathered in Rome.

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The statement was broadcast and repeated by all Polish media.

Pope John Paul II believes that the former 'Eastern Bloc' countries that enter the EU have a great mission to carry out in the Old World.

After recalling that Poland and other former Eastern block countries are entering the European Union, the pope said: "I know that there are many in opposition to integration. I appreciate their concern about maintaining the cultural and religious identity of our nation. However, I must emphasise that Poland has always been an important part of Europe. Europe needs Poland. The Church in Europe needs the Poles' testimony of faith. Poland needs Europe."

The papal words came at a crucial moment just three weeks ahead of the EU referendum and undermined efforts made by mainly Catholic-rooted political groups such as the conservative League of Polish Families (LPR).

Opponents believe that the Pope, the unquestioned moral authority for Poles, simply does not know the terms on which Poland is joining the EU. Confidentially they confess that a chance for a "No" vote that was in fact never high, was buried with the papal statement.

The Pope's words have to be regarded as a "milestone", Polish minister for Europe, Danuta Hübner said.

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