.- Earlier today, Pope Benedict welcomed Georgi Parvanov, president of the Republic of Bulgaria, to the Vatican, thanking Divine Providence for the “rediscovered capacity of friendly and constructive dialogue after the long and difficult period of the communist regime."
President Parvanov traveled with his wife and a delegation to Rome to pay traditional homage to the tomb of St. Cyril who, with his brother Methodius, are significant Apostles to the Slavic people.
Along with St. Benedict, John Paul II proclaimed them co-patrons of Europe on December 31, 1980.
Pope Benedict said that Cyril and Methodius "forged in a Christian perspective the human and cultural values of the Bulgarians and other Slav nations.”
“One could also say”, he pointed out, “that, through their evangelizing action, it is Europe that was shaped, this Europe of which Bulgaria feels itself to be a convincing partner. Bulgaria even realizes that it has a special duty towards other peoples, knowing it is one of the bridges between West and East."
The Holy Father noted "the good relations that exist between the Holy See and [Bulgaria]” and asked, "How can we not thank Divine Providence for this rediscovered capacity of friendly and constructive dialogue after the long and difficult period of the communist regime?"
In closing, Pope Benedict thanked Bulgaria and its people for the "closeness shown to the Holy See in these last two months.”
“You, the government, the parliament, and so many citizens wished to show the Catholic Church their sincere sentiments on the occasion of the death of John Paul II and of my election as his successor," he said.