Pope Encourages Christian Roots

Bulgarian, Macedonian Leaders Visit Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is urging Europe to remain faithful to its Christian roots, pointing to Sts. Cyril and Methodius as sources of «light and hope» in this effort.

The Pope affirmed this today when he received in separate audiences the presidents of Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, together with their delegations. The presidents’ visit to the Pontiff has become a tradition to celebrate the co-patrons of Europe, Cyril and Methodius.

Speaking in French to Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, the Holy Father expressed his wish that Bulgaria would «effectively contribute to the building up of a Europe that remains faithful to its Christian roots.»

May «the values of solidarity and justice, liberty and peace, constantly reaffirmed today, find effectively even more strength and solidity in the eternal teachings of Christ, translated in the lives of his disciples in every age,» he added.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius are «founts of light and hope,» the Pontiff continued, and emphasized that «their spiritual legacy has marked the lives of the Slavic peoples.»

«Their example has sustained the testimony and the fidelity of countless Christians who, through the centuries, have consecrated their existence to spreading the message of salvation, working at the same time for the construction of a just and solidary society,» he added.

Then, in his meeting with Macedonian President Gjeorge Ivanov, Benedict XVI said in English: «The annual celebration of the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, teachers of the faith and apostles of the Slavonic peoples, invites all of us who are united by the one faith in Jesus Christ, to contemplate their heroic evangelical witness.

«At the same time we are challenged to conserve the patrimony of ideals and values that they have transmitted by word and deed. In fact this is the most precious contribution that Christians can offer to the construction of a Europe of the third millennium, which aspires to a future of progress, justice and peace for all.»

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