.- Pope Benedict XVI today welcomed Prime Minister Vlado Buchkovski of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Vatican as he and an entourage celebrates the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who were Apostles to the Slavic people.
The feast is celebrated in the Eastern Church on May 11, and in the West on February 14.
The Pope said that, "When I received the new ambassador a few days ago, I wanted to acknowledge how strongly the traditions and culture of the Macedonian people resonate with the values which permeate the spirit of Europe.”
“The brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius, Apostles of the Slav peoples,” he pointed out, “contributed significantly to its formation. Their human and Christian activity left indelible traces in the history of your own country. The pilgrimage which you make every year to the tomb of Saint Cyril provides a fitting occasion to return to the roots of your history."
The Holy Father added that, "I am convinced that the way to give life to a society truly attentive to the common good is to seek in the Gospel the roots of shared values, as the experience of Saints Cyril and Methodius demonstrates.”
“This is the ardent desire of the Catholic Church which has no other interest but to spread and bear witness to Jesus Christ's words of hope and love, words of life which down the centuries have inspired many martyrs and confessors of the faith.”
"I sincerely hope," the Pope continued, "that your pilgrimage today will contribute to keeping vibrant throughout the Nation these high human and Christian ideals. I pray too that your country will confidently open up to Europe, thereby contributing significantly to building its future, inspired by your invaluable religious and cultural heritage."