Pope Hopes Macedonia Adds Its Spirituality to Europe

Receives Prime Minister Vlado Buchkovski in Audience

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI hopes that Macedonia will contribute its Christian spirituality to the new Europe.

The Pope expressed this today when receiving Prime Minister Vlado Buchkovski of this Balkan country, who was in Rome on pilgrimage to visit the tomb of St. Cyril.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius are known as the apostles of the Slav peoples. Only St. Cyril is buried in Rome.

The Holy Father said that he prayed that Macedonia “will confidently open up to Europe, thereby contributing significantly to building its future, inspired by your invaluable religious and cultural heritage.”

Speaking of the activity of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, co-patrons of Europe, Benedict XVI said that they “laid the foundations of an authentic Christian culture, and at the same time actively took steps to create the conditions for peace among all the different populations.”

“Those values of peace and fraternity, which these holy patrons of Europe, together with St. Benedict, tirelessly defended, remain indispensable elements for constructing communities of solidarity, open to integral human progress, respecting the dignity of every human being and of the whole human being,” the Pope said.

“I am convinced that the way to give life to a society truly attentive to the common good is to seek in the Gospel the roots of shared values, as the experience of Sts. Cyril and Methodius demonstrates,” he added.

“This is the ardent desire of the Catholic Church which has no other interest but to spread and bear witness to Jesus Christ’s words of hope and love, words of life which down the centuries have inspired many martyrs and confessors of the faith,” the Holy Father said.

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, independent since 1991, has 2 million inhabitants, 79% of whom are Orthodox and 29% Muslim. Catholics number some 15,000.

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