Polish leader invites new Pope to visit

April 20, 2005 at 1:13 PM

WARSAW, Poland, April 20 (UPI) -- President Aleksander Kwasniewski Wednesday invited Pope Benedict XVI to visit Poland, homeland of the late Pope John Paul II.

Kwasniewski said such a visit would be "an event of symbolic dimensions because the head of the Church is a representative of our neighbor, the German nation, with which we have achieved reconciliation after centuries of difficult history and with whom we are now jointly building a united Europe."

Poland's bishops also welcomed the prospect of a visit by Pope Benedict saying it would be an event of "great joy on Polish soil."

Pope John Paul II was an iconic figure in modern Polish history, uniting the nation and encouraging millions to take a stand against communism during the Cold War.

Solidarity movement leaders also sent their congratulations to the new pope, who is widely seen as a man who will lead the Church in the tradition of his predecessor.

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