VATICAN CITY, FEB. 15, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II delivered today from the window of his study before praying the midday Angelus with thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He gave the address in Italian.
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1. Yesterday, February 14, we celebrated the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, apostles of the Slav peoples and patrons of Europe together with St. Benedict, abbot. Evangelizing the Central Eastern areas of the continent, they contributed in a decisive way to having Christian Europe be able to breathe with two lungs: the Western and the Eastern. Indeed, just as it is impossible to think of European civilization without the Benedictine work and legacy, so one cannot fail to consider the evangelizing and social action of the two brothers, saints of Salonika.
2. Over these months, some countries of Eastern Europe, where Sts. Cyril and Methodius worked, have been involved in the process of the continent’s political integration. They are bearer-nations of a specific cultural and spiritual richness: In them, Christianity has exercised an extraordinary force of cohesion, while respecting their peculiar characteristics.
In this connection, the method of evangelization of Sts. Cyril and Methodius was exemplary who, moved by the ideal to unite new believers in Christ, adapted liturgical texts to the Slavic language and the customs of new peoples to Greco-Roman law (see encyclical “Slavorum Apostoli,” No. 12-13).
3. The meeting between the Gospel and cultures made a “laboratory” of Europe where, in the course of centuries, significant and lasting values were consolidated. Let us pray so that, in our days too, the universal message of Christ, entrusted to the Church, will be a light of truth and source of justice and peace for the peoples of the continent and of the whole world. We ask this through the intercession of the Virgin Mary and of all the men and women saints, who are invoked as patrons of Europe.
[Translation by ZENIT]