In a meeting last Saturday with the new ambassador of Bulgaria, Nikola Ivanov Kaludov, Pope Benedict XVI spoke on the importance of Christianity in the development of Bulgaria, which joined the European Union in 2007.
Stating the necessity of Bulgaria keeping its cultural identity, the Holy Father said that “countries must not sacrifice their own cultural identity in the process of constructing Europe. Quite the opposite, they must find the means to produce good fruits that enrich the entire community.”
“Bulgaria,” he commented, “undoubtedly plays an important role in creating serene relations among neighbor States, and in the defense and promotion of human rights.”
In the case of Bulgaria, the Holy Father stated that Christianity is central to its identity and that the development of the country must have a “spiritual dimension.” Referencing his recent encyclical “Caritas in Vertitate” the Holy Father said that “it is vital for development not to be limited exclusively to economic domination, but that it take account of the integrity of the human person.”
The Pope warned Bulgarians to not view Christianity as merely “a treasure of the past to be conserved” but instead to recognize its “truly promising future which protects human beings from the temptations that always threaten to make them forget their own greatness.”
Pope Benedict finished his address by stating the importance of “mutual understanding and respect” between the many religious communities in Bulgaria and that “the Catholic community wishes to open generously to everyone and to work with everyone.”