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Friday, May 23, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2003 (VIS) - Today John Paul II received in audience a delegation from the Republic of Macedonia, headed by Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, that has come to Rome to visit the relics of St. Cyril, which are preserved in St. Clement Church, on the occasion of the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, co-patrons of Europe.

"It is my fervent prayer," said the Pope, "that your country will be ever strengthened in its commitment to unity and solidarity, ideals which the Holy Brothers of Salonika so effectively embodied in their lives, dedicated to preaching the Christian faith". They were "bridges linking East and West. By the values they taught and the example they gave, they brought different cultures and traditions together into one rich heritage for the entire human family."

The Holy Father went on to explain that the Third Millennium needs to rediscover two values which were characteristic of Cyril and Methodius' life: charity and justice. These values become "tangible realities when people of good will in every part of the globe ... are uncompromisingly committed to the 'cause of reconciliation, friendly coexistence, human development and respect for the intrinsic dignity of every nation'."

"This annual pilgrimage to Rome is not just a tribute to St. Cyril but is also a testimony to the bonds of friendship existing between your nation and the Catholic Church. I encourage you to see that these bonds grow ever stronger, especially within your local communities, thus producing fruits ... of greater cooperation towards the Catholic Church in your country."


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