Papal Address to Macedonian Envoy

«Your Country Is Proud of a Long and Luminous Christian Tradition»

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 22, 2010 ( Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today as he greeted Macedonia’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Gioko Gjorgjevski.

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Mr. Ambassador
I am happy to receive Your Excellency for the presentation of your Letters of Credence as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Holy See. I am grateful for the cordial expressions you addressed to me, also on behalf of the authorities and of the noble Nation that you represent. I ask you to convey to them the expression of my esteem and benevolence, united to the certainty of my prayer for concord and the harmonious development of the whole country.
On receiving you, my thought goes to the annual meeting between the Successor of Peter and an authoritative official delegation from your country, which is held on the occasion of the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, venerated spiritual guides of the Slav peoples and co-patrons of Europe. This meeting, which has become a pleasant custom, attests to the good relations that exist between the Holy See and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. They are bilateral relations, which have developed, especially in the last year, in a positive way, and which are characterized by cordial cooperation. In regard to this, I wish to manifest my pleasure over the mutual commitment manifested in the recent construction of new buildings of Catholic worship in several places of the country.
As you have underlined, visible in the Macedonian people are the signs of human and Christian values, embodied in the life of the people, which constitute the cherished spiritual and cultural patrimony of the nation, of which are also eloquent the wonderful religious monuments, which arose in different periods and localities, notably in the city of Ohrid. To this precious heritage, the Holy See looks with great esteem and consideration, favoring, in what is of her competence, its historical-documentary deepening, for a greater knowledge of its religious and cultural past. Beginning from this patrimony, the citizens of your country will continue building also in the future their own history and, strong in their spiritual identity, will be able to contribute their experience to the concert of European nations. Because of this, I very much hope that the aspirations and growing efforts of this country to form part of a united Europe will come to a good end, in a condition of acceptance of the relative rights and duties and in the mutual respect of collective agencies and of the traditional values of each nation.
Mr. Ambassador, in the words you pronounced on the commitment of the Macedonian people to increasingly favor dialogue and coexistence between the different ethnic and religious realities that constitute the country, I have perceived that universal aspiration to justice and internal cohesion which has always animated it, and which can become an example for other regions of the Balkans. In fact, the bridges of exchange of more ample agreements and close religious relations between the different components of Macedonian society have favored the creation of a climate in which persons recognize themselves brothers, children of the same God and citizens of one country. It is certainly the task, in the first place of those in charge of institutions, to find ways of translating into political initiatives the aspirations of men and women to dialogue and peace. Believers, nevertheless, know that peace is not only the fruit of planning and human activities, but that first of all it is a gift of God to men of good will. Of this peace, moreover, justice and forgiveness are the basic pillars. Justice ensures full respect of the rights and duties and forgiveness heals and rebuilds from the foundations relations between persons, who still resent the consequences of the confrontation between ideologies of the recent past.
Having surmounted the stage of the last World War, after the sad experience of a totalitarianism that denied the fundamental rights of the human person, the Macedonian people have pointed themselves to a harmonious economic progress, giving proof of patience, willingness to sacrifice and persevering optimism, tenaciously directed to the creation of a better future for all its inhabitants. A stable social and economic development cannot but keep in  mind the cultural, social and spiritual needs of the people, as it must also appreciate the most noble traditions and popular resources. All this in the awareness of the growing phenomenon of globalization, which entails, on one hand, a certain leveling of social and economic differences, could, on the other, aggravate the balance between those who take advantage of ever greater possibilities of wealth and those, instead, who are left on the margins of progress.
Mr. Ambassador, your country is proud of a long and luminous Christian tradition, which dates back to Apostolic times. I hope that in a global context of moral relativism and of little interest in the religious experience, in which a part of European society often moves, the citizens of the noble nation that you represent will be able to make a wise discernment by opening themselves to the new horizons of authentic civilization and true humanism. To do this, it is necessary to keep alive and firm, at the personal and community level, those principles that are also at the base of this nation’s civilization: attachment to the family, the defense of human life, the promotion of religious needs, especially of the young. Although the Catholic Church in your nation constitutes a minority, it wishes to make a sincere contribution in the building of a more just and solidaristic society, based on the Christian values that have fertilized the consciences of its inhabitants. I am certain that the Catholic community, in the awareness that charity in truth «is the principal driving force for the true development of every person and of the whole of humanity» (Caritas in Veritate, n. 1) will continue its charitable mission, especially in favor of the poor and the suffering, so appreciated in your country.
Excellency, I am sure that you also, in the fulfillment of the lofty task entrusted to you, will contribute to intensify the already good existing relations between the Holy See and the Macedonian nation, and I assure you that you can count, to this end, on the full availability of all my collaborators of the Roman Curia. With these fervent desires, I invoke upon you, Mr. Ambassador, upon your family, upon those governing and upon all the inhabitants of the nation that you represent, an abundant divine Blessing.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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