The feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius brought delegations from Bulgaria and Macedonia to the Vatican on Saturday as they honored the memory of the two missionaries to the Slavs.
Pope Benedict XVI first received Nikola Gruevski, prime minister of Macedonia, in an audience, and then Ivajlo Kalfin, the deputy prime minister and foreign minister of the Republic of Bulgaria.
In his words to the Macedonians, the Pope said that the "shining spiritual witness" of Sts. Cyril and Methodius "points to a perennial truth which must be rediscovered to an ever greater degree: only when hope comes from God, is it trustworthy and secure."
The Holy Father also called the Macedonians to imitate Jesus’ example of "tirelessly dedicate themselves to laying the foundations of friendly coexistence among peoples, respecting the rights of each and seeking the good of everyone." This call from the Pope takes on particular relevance as Macedonia enters into its parliamentary elections, which have been marked by violence in recent weeks.
Speaking to the group from Bulgaria, Pope Benedict pointed them to the memory of the two saints, which "stimulates believers, both Orthodox and Catholics, in their desire to spur the country to probe more deeply into its rich Christian heritage, the origins of which go back to the tireless initiative of these two great evangelizers from Salonika."
The example of the two Greek saints should inspire Bulgarians to value evangelization because "it represents a model for the inculturation of faith" valid "even for the post-modern age,” the Pope said. “The Gospel does not undermine the authentic elements it finds in the various cultural traditions, but helps mankind of all times to recognize and achieve the real good, illuminated by the splendor of truth," he explained.
Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by highlighting how "the rediscovery of Christian roots is important for building a society in which the spiritual and cultural values arising from the Gospel remain present", values that "draw nourishment from constant union with God, as is evident from the lives of Sts. Cyril and Methodius who strove relentlessly to weave relationships of mutual understanding and cordiality between different peoples, and between diverse cultures and ecclesial traditions."