Vatican City, May 23, 2004 / 22:00 pm
Pope John Paul II welcomed on Monday two separate delegations from Macedonia and Bulgaria, both visiting Rome on the occasion of the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, "Founding Fathers" of Eastern Europe.
The Pope greeted the Macedonian delegation, and noted “the traditional and affectionate homage which you pay to Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Apostles of the Slavonic peoples, whose memory is preserved in the venerable Basilica of St. Clement.” The Holy Father also noted that Macedonia “has wisely reaffirmed its commitment to follow the path of peace and reconciliation.. … You eyes are turned legitimately towards Europe. … I truly hope that your desires will receive just consideration and that the citizens of your republic may be one day rightful members of a united Europe.”
Speaking in French to the Bulgarian delegation, the Pontiff said that “your country has rediscovered its place on the international scene and it is pursuing this path of freedom and democracy, seeking thus to consolidate harmony within the nation. It is involved in a patient effort to rejoin in a stable fashion the institutions of the European union. In this regard, I hope that Bulgaria can realize its legitimate aspirations in bringing …. its own contribution to the building of Europe.”