Macedonian Leader Visits Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2009 ( The president of Macedonia visited Benedict XVI in Rome today, thanking Vatican officials for the Holy See’s attention to the country since its 1991 independence.

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Branko Crvenkovski met with the Pope and subsequently with the Holy Father’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states.

He expressed «his recognition for the attention manifested by the Holy See toward his country since independence,» a Vatican communiqué reported.

The leaders spoke of the good relations between the Holy See and Macedonia, as shown by the «annual visit of an official delegation to Rome on the occasion of the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.»

Macedonia separated peacefully from Yugoslavia in 1991, but Greece objected to it using the name Macedonia and thus international recognition was delayed.

The nation established diplomatic ties with the Holy See in 1994.

Almost 65% of its 2 million residents are Orthodox and 33% are Muslim. Other Christian confessions make up just 0.37% of the population.

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