On the Heritage of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, and Europe

Pope Again Urges Mention of Christian Roots in Future Constitution

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 16, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today before reciting the Angelus with the crowds in St. Peter's Square.



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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. Last Friday, Feb. 14, we celebrated the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, apostles of the Slavs and co-patrons of Europe. Born in Salonika in the first half of the ninth century, and educated in the Byzantine culture, the two brothers courageously assumed the task of evangelizing the Slav people of Greater Moravia in the heart of Europe.

A characteristic of their apostolate was to remain always faithful be it to the Roman Pontiff or to the patriarch of Constantinople, respecting the tradition and language of the Slav people. They were inspired by a profound sense of the Church one, holy, catholic and apostolic, while Jesus' invocation "ut unum sint" (John 17:11) was their missionary motto. May their example and intercession help Christians of the East and West to reconstruct full unity among themselves (see encyclical epistle "Slavorum Apostoli," 13: AAS 77 [1985], 794-795).

2. The heritage of Sts. Cyril and Methodius is precious also in the cultural realm. In fact, their work contributed to the consolidation of the common Christian roots of Europe, roots that with their sap have suffused European history and institutions.

Precisely because of this it has been requested that in the future Constitutional Treaty of the European Union space not be lacking to this common heritage of the East and West. Such reference will in no way detract from the just laicization of the political structures (see "Lumen Gentium," 36; "Gaudium et Spes," 36, 76), but, on the contrary, will help to preserve the Continent from the double risk of ideological laicism, on one hand, and from sectarian fundamentalism, on the other.

3. United by the values and memories of their past, European peoples will be able to carry out fully their role in the promotion of justice and peace in the whole world. Let us pray, to this end, to Mary Most Holy and to the patron saints of Europe.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope greeted the English-speaking pilgrims present. He said:]

I am pleased to greet the Schola Cantorum of St. Philip's Preparatory School in London. May your music and your lives always be directed to the praise of God and the growth of his Kingdom.

Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.