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Friday, 9 December 2005

A visit of the President of the Republic of Poland and the First Lady to the Vatican and the Italian Republic

On 9 December 2005, the President of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, and the First Lady paid a visit to the Vatican.
On Friday morning, President Aleksander Kwaśniewski was received by Pope Benedict XVI in a private audience. The meeting in private lasted 20 minutes.
After the talks in private, Pope Benedict XVI and President Aleksander Kwaśniewski were joined by the First Lady, Jolanta Kwaśniewska, and by the members of the official delegation.
In the course of the audience, President Aleksander Kwaśniewski presented the Pope with a miniature of a stained-glass window depicting St. Benedict and Abbot Desiderius.
After the audience with the Holy Father, the President met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
Following this meeting, the Presidential Couple laid flowers at the tomb of John Paul II in the Vatican Grottoes. A bunch of white and red carnations had been brought from Poland.
Asked by journalists about his impressions of his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, the President of the Republic of Poland said, among other things:
This is the first time that I have had an opportunity to meet with Pope Benedict XVI for such a long time, as the meeting during the inauguration was a typical courtesy call. The Pope reminded me that we had met earlier at Caen during the celebrations in Normandy, where we had an opportunity to talk to each other. We had also talked once or twice in Rome and in Warsaw in the past. Today’s meeting was actually the first, very interesting meeting devoted to matters of substance that I had with Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope began by thanking me for four things: firstly, for the fact that the Polish state and the Roman Catholic Church enjoy such good relations and that we have created an appropriate state of wise balance. He thanked me for my efforts to promote Polish-German reconciliation as well as Ukrainian-Polish reconciliation, for my efforts to promote democracy in Ukraine and to promote Polish-Jewish reconciliation... I said that the election of Cardinal Ratzinger to the Holy See was welcomed in Poland with joy, understanding and undisguised friendliness towards the new Pontiff. In the course of our talks we also touched upon the Pope’s forthcoming visit to Poland, which will take place next year, probably in May, a little bit earlier than originally planned. We discussed Europe: what needs to be done to make Europe strengthen its historical identity on the one hand, but also its co-operation. I must say that I have found in Benedict XVI a declared advocate of European co-operation... We also talked about how things are changing in Poland, and how they have changed in Germany. Thus, we discussed politics. The Holy Father asked me to convey his best wishes to all Polish people and said he hoped to meet them soon, as early as next year.
During his visit to Rome, the President of the Republic of Poland also met with the President of the Italian Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.
The meeting between the two politicians provided an opportunity to sum up what has been achieved in Polish-Italian bilateral political and economic relations in recent years. The two presidents also discussed the European Union. As President Aleksander Kwaśniewski emphasized, the main idea of this meeting is to further strengthen European co-operation in order to overcome the difficulties faced by Europe. We are hoping – said Aleksander Kwaśniewski – for a good finale of the Brussels summit, for an adoption of a financial perspective for Europe for 2007-2013. In the course of the meeting, the Polish President offered his most sincere wishes to President Carlo Ciampi, who celebrated his 85th birthday on that day.
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