Culture Needs Christ, Pontiff Affirms

Receives Delegations From Bulgaria, Macedonia

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2010 ( Benedict XVI is urging the faithful to promote the bond between the Gospel and culture, affirming that Christ is good for society.

The Pope said this today when he received in separate audiences leaders from Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, together with their delegations. The delegations’ visit to the Pontiff has become a tradition to celebrate the co-patrons of Europe, the brothers Sts. Cyril and Methodius, celebrated May 11 in the East and Feb. 14 in the West.

Speaking to the Bulgarian delegation headed by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, he affirmed, “The Gospel, in fact, does not weaken what is authentic in the different cultural traditions.”

Indeed, the Holy Father contended, the contrary is actually what happens, since faith in Jesus shows the splendor of truth, enabling man to “recognize the true good and [helping] him to realize it in his own life and in the social context.”

It can thus be affirmed, Benedict XVI said, that “Sts. Cyril and Methodius contributed significantly in molding the humanity and spiritual physiognomy of the Bulgarian people, inserting it in the common Christian cultural tradition.”

He highlighted Bulgaria’s mission “to promote and give witness of these Christian roots that derive from the teachings of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, today more timely and necessary than ever.”

“As Christians,” the Pontiff said, “we have the duty to preserve and reinforce the intrinsic bond that exists between the Gospel and our respective cultural identities.”

God’s love

Then addressing the Macedonian delegation led by the president of Parliament, Trjako Veljanoski, the Holy Father reflected on the evangelization efforts of Europe’s patrons.

“They knew sufferings, privations and hostilities, but endured everything with unbreakable faith and invincible hope in God,” he said. “With this strength they consumed themselves for the peoples entrusted to them.”

The Pontiff noted that the two saints, in trials and in joys, “always felt accompanied by God and experienced daily his love and that of the brothers.”

“We also understand increasingly that when we feel loved by the Lord and are able to correspond to this love, we are enveloped and guided by his grace in every activity and action of ours,” he reflected. “According to the effusion of the many gifts of the Holy Spirit, the more we are able to love and give ourselves to others, the more the Spirit can come to the aid of our weakness, pointing out to us new ways for our action.”

The Bishop of Rome concluded by citing the encouragement Cyril gave Methodius as he was dying: to not abandon his work.
“Let us put our hand to the plough and continue to work on the same furrow that God in his providence indicated to Sts. Cyril and Methodius,” the Pope said. “May the Lord bless your work at the service of the common good and of your whole nation, and infuse abundantly in her the gifts of the Spirit of unity and peace.”

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