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 CNS Story:

POPE-TUSK Dec-7-2007 (190 words) With photos. xxxi

Pope, Polish prime minister discuss European Union, Poland

By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Poland's Catholic heritage and its role as a strongly Christian voice in the European Union dominated discussions when Pope Benedict XVI welcomed Poland's new prime minister to the Vatican.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who took office in November, arrived at the Vatican Dec. 7 with his wife, son and daughter.

The Vatican said the pope and prime minister's discussion included "the situation of the country, particularly in reference to the Christian moral and religious values that are part of the patrimony of the Polish people."

The atmosphere inside the papal library was warm and friendly as the pope and prime minister joked about all the Polish photographers and reporters present and as they exchanged gifts.

Pope Benedict's German Advent wreath, with its traditional four red candles, sat on a table near where Tusk's entourage was seated. Just one candle was lit for the first week of Advent.

After his meeting, the prime minister visited the grotto under St. Peter's Basilica and laid flowers at the tomb of Pope John Paul II.

END


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