Words to Macedonian Delegation on Sts. Cyril and Methodius Feast

"There Can Be No Real Unity Without Respect for the Dignity of Every Person"

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address today to Gjorge Ivanov, president of Macedonia, whom he received in audience together with a Catholic-Orthodox delegation from the country.

The Pope received delegations from both Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to celebrate the feast day -- May 11 in the East and Feb. 14 in the West -- of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the co-patrons of Europe.

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Mr. President,

Honorable Members of the Government and Distinguished Authorities,

Venerable Brothers Representatives of the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church

I am particularly happy to receive you and to address my cordial greeting to each one of you, in particular to the president of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius is a motive of joy for us all. These holy brothers sent to the Slav peoples proclaimed the Gospel amid many difficulties, but always sustained by an indestructible trust in the Lord. They were animated by the passion to make the Gospel of Christ known and for that reason they spent themselves in teaching the Christian doctrine, reproducing it in books written in the Slavic language. Without a doubt this was a decisive event for the growth and development of the Slav civilization and culture in general. The testimony and teaching of Sts. Cyril and Methodius are still current both for those who are at the service of the Gospel as well as for those called to govern the destinies of nations.

The life of these men was totally dedicated to apostolic activity, and the divine intuition to make the message of Revelation comprehensible and accessible to the peoples was the reason for unity for different traditions and cultures. In acceptance of God's salvific plan, peoples can rediscover the foundations on which to build civilizations and societies imbued with the spirit of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence. There can be no real unity without respect for the dignity of every person and his inalienable rights. Sts. Cyril and Methodius understood well that the Gospel of Christ is able to illumine every ambit and dimension of the human experience, to make it fully human. The Word of God calls constantly to conversion of heart, so that every decision, every choice is purified of egotistical interests; and it is precisely from this permanent conversion to God that it is possible to have a new humanity born.

May your annual pilgrimage to Rome be the occasion to renew the bonds of friendship between your nation and the Catholic Church and, at the same time, to reinforce and promote the commitment for the good of your country. Let us invoke the intercession of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, so that the Lord may give you his peace and bless the peoples of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

[Translation by ZENIT]