· The Pope to the delegates of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria on the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius ·
Common economic interests are not enough to build a solid base for a united Europe. Instead, it is necessary to look to, “authentic values which have their foundation in the universal moral law, written on the hearts of men,” said Pope Benedict XVI, receiving in audience delegations from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria on Monday, May 23, on the occasion of the liturgical feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius – celebrated by the Orthodox churches May 24. The Pope stated that Christianity was the “central and qualifying element” of the history of European people and underscored that the two evangelizing saints of the continent remind us that, “unity will be stronger if based on common Christian roots.”
The testimony and teaching of Cyril and Methodius remain, therefore, “still relevant both for those at the service of the Gospel, and for those who are called to govern nations.” A relevance expressed by the Pontiff in the conviction that embracing God’s plan of salvation, “populations can re-discover the foundations on which to build civilizations and societies that are filled with the spirit of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.” In fact, there cannot be real unity, “without respect for the dignity of every human person and his inalienable rights.”
The Gospel – as the two Slavic saint apostles knew – “is capable of illuminating all areas and dimensions of human experience and make them fully human.” The Word of God, said Benedict XVI, “continually calls us to a conversion of hearts, so that every decision, every choice, is purified from selfish interests.” It is from this “permanent conversion to God that it is possible to create a new humanity.”
It is a particularly significant call to the nations of Europe, given that, “Christian faith has shaped the culture of the old Continent and is indissolubly woven into its history, to the point that it would not be understandable,” without it. It is therefore important that Europe, “also grows in its spiritual dimension,” and that its people – whose unity represents, “great hope” – are committed to “creating the conditions of profound cohesion and effective collaboration.”
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