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German President gives Pope credit for reunification

Meeting with Pope John Paul II on Saturday, German President Johannes Rau gave the Holy Father credit for the reunification of his country.

"Germany owes her unity to Poland and to the action of the Pope, without which she would still have a long road to go toward reunification," Rau said.

The German president was making some unscripted remarks speaking during a formal reception, as he presented the Pope with a miniature of the Brandenburg Gate: a symbol of divided Germany.

For his part, the Pope said the most powerful element of European unity is the Christian cultural heritage that the countries share. He suggested Germany could serve as a model for the future of a united Europe, since "Germany is rich in signs for the Christian faith, which still today permeates the lives of many people."

The Vatican has been arguing for an explicit recognition of Christianity in the new European constitution. Rau, who was among the first prominent European leaders to advance the idea of a European constitution, is now hoping to break an impasse over the wording of the document.

After his meeting with Pope John Paul, President Rau also met privately with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo.

President Rau, who was elected in 1999 to a five year term as German president, was making a final official visit to the Vatican before stepping down.

President credits Pope for German reunification (Catholic World News 8/3/04)

Pope urges reconciliation amid world conflicts (Indianapolis Star 8/3/04)
Prayer Helps Transfigure Us, Says John Paul II (Zenit 7/3/04)
On Retreat, Pope Didn't Forget Troubled Regions (Zenit 7/3/04)
Preacher's Style Impressed Pope (Zenit 7/3/04)
"Redemptor Hominis": John Paul II's Manifesto (Zenit 7/3/04)
Pope Urges World to Embrace Forgiveness (Associated Press/Yahoo 7/3/04)
Lenten retreat ended, Pope thanks preacher (Catholic World News 8/3/04)

9 Mar 2004