During an audience on Thursday with Georgi Parvanov, president of the Republic of Bulgaria, Pope John Paul II encouraged Bulgarians to keep building a new society based on spiritual values.
Recalling his apostolic trip in May of 2002, the Pontiff said that “I noted the firm goal of building up the country with new-found serenity and faith in the future, from within the great European house.”
“The cordial meeting with civil authorities of every order and rank convinced me of everyone’s determination to continue courageously to peacefully build up the whole society, without being afraid of confronting the day to day challenges.”
John Paul II then spoke about the “venerated patriarch Maxim, head of the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria,” who, he recalled, “during my visit welcomed me into his home with fraternal affection. It was a further step of progressive growth in ecclesial communion.”
“In this way, I was able to verify that Europe expects the common commitment of Catholics and Orthodox in defense of human rights and the culture of life,” he added.
“I saw the same sentiments of openness to dialogue and collaboration in the small but fervent Catholic community that is actively committed to bearing witness to Christ in Bulgaria in constant cooperation with other religious communities in the country. It is my fervent hope that this climate of understanding may grow for the sake of reciprocal understanding and the good of society,” he concluded.