Pope Hopes Europe Is Open to Macedonia

Remembers Saints Cyril and Methodius

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI launched an appeal to European peoples to recognize the contributions of the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia.

The Pope's remarks today found favor in the audience he granted to Macedonian Parliament Speaker Ljubisa Georgievski, who was accompanied by government members and representatives of the Orthodox Church.

The meeting took place in honor of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the ninth-century apostles of the Slavic peoples. Of these co-patron saints of Europe, the Holy Father said, they left behind "a human and spiritual legacy that has made your land a place of meeting for various cultures and religions."

Benedict XVI expressed his desire that not only "the spiritual patrimony you have inherited be shared, but also that your particular identity be granted its due consideration by the other European peoples who are close to you in terms of tradition and culture."

Of the 2 million people in Macedonia, 64.7% are Orthodox and 33.3% are Muslim.

The Holy Father concluded, "The peaceful coming together of the aspirations of the people who live in your country is an example for the European continent, upon which the Holy See looks with favor."