Addresses Macedonia's President on Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius

VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2011 ( If we continually convert our hearts to God we can make choices free of egotistical interest and thereby participate in the birth of a new humanity, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made this point when recalling the example of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the presence of a delegation from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the occasion of their annual pilgrimage to Rome to celebrate of the brothers' feast day, celebrated May 11 in the East and Feb. 14 in the West.

The brothers "spent themselves in teaching the Christian doctrine, reproducing it in books written in the Slavic language," the Pope recounted in his address to President Gjorge Ivanov, accompanied by a delegation of governmental representatives as well as representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in Macedonia.

The spiritual and cultural contributions of Cyril and Methodius were not only a decisive point in the history of the Slav civilization but also continue to be "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 Holy Father said.

Just as the saints brought unprecedented unity to diverse cultures and traditions through their total dedication to their apostolic work, if we too accept God's salvific plan today we can "rediscover the foundations on which to build civilizations and societies imbued with the spirit of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence."

The majority of believers in Macedonia are Christian, with nearly 65% belonging to the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Catholics of the Byzantine rite number 11,000. One of the country's major state universities in the capital of Skopje is named after Sts. Cyril and Methodius.