Pope John Paul II attracted 15% of Slovenia's population to the country's first beatification, which was the focal point of a visit designed to revive Christian values in a country deeply influenced by exaggerated nationalism and secular capitalism.
    The Pope beatified Bishop Anton Martin Slomsek, a key national figure who died in 1862.
    "Considering the fundamental role of Christianity and the Catholic Church in the history and culture of Slovenia," the pope said after visiting the cathedral where Slomsek is buried, "it is legitimate to wish that the process toward effective collaboration between church and state advance speedily, to favour the overcoming of present difficulties."
    During the homily, the Pope said that Slomsek not only "became a good Samaritan to the Slovenian people," but he also paid special attention to "the formation of the clergy and faithful of the country." In addition, "he demonstrated profound openness to ecumenism, and was one of the first to commit himself to the unity of Christians in Central Europe."
    Finally, John Paul II proposed Bishop Slomsek as "a genuine model of patriotism, proving that it is possible to be sincere patriots and, with this same sincerity, to live together and collaborate with people of another nationality, culture and religion.
    Zenit (available soon) 11:44am 21/9/99

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