24 May 08 - RV) Pope Benedict XVI received delegations from two countries today who are in Rome to mark the annual celebrations in honor of Sts Cyril and Methodius.To the President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, government officials, and a group of distinguished representatives of the clergy and lay faithful from both the Orthodox Church and Catholic Church in Macedonia, the pope extended warm greetings.
The pope encouraged the delegates to follow the example of the saintly brothers from Thessalonica in a generous service to promote the values and social projects that promote the good of the human person and protect the dignity of all human persons.
Recalling that the Patrons of Europe are a “bridge” that continues to unite the East and West – and thus the Orthodox and Catholic Churches – the pope challenged the delegates to find in the incessant apostolic activity and the tireless missionary zeal of Sts Cyril and Methodius a “brilliant” spiritual witness to be discovered anew.
In conclusion the pope thanked them for their visit, as a sign of the bonds of friendship that exist between Macedonia and the Catholic Church and he imparted his apostolic blessing.
To the Vice Prime Minister of Bulgaria, government officials, and a group of distinguished representatives of the clergy and lay faithful from both the Orthodox Church and Catholic Church in Bulgaria, the pope recalled with the joy the annual pilgrimage undertaken to Rome to venerate the relics of the two brother saints.
The pope recalled how the annual celebration of the memorial of Sts Cyril and Methodius offers to all of the faithful in Bulgaria – be they Orthodox or Catholic – a push to more deeply appreciate the rich Christian patrimony of their country and their native culture.
Pope Benedict XVI held up the two saints as models in the postmodern era of a true paradigm of the “inculturation” of the Christian Faith without confusing or obscuring its essential elements. The brother saints show us how values and ideals which promote an incessant union with God – the pope said – promote cordial relationships of mutual understanding between peoples of diverse cultures, and different ecclesial traditions.
The pope concluded by imparting his apostolic blessing on the delegation from Bulgaria and all of the citizens of their country.
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