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VATICAN CITY, 22 APR 2010 (VIS) - Gjoko Gjorgjevski, the new ambassador to the Holy See of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, today presented his Letters of Credence to the Holy Father.

In his address to the diplomat, the Pope mentioned "the good relations" that exist between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Holy See, relations "characterised by cordial co-operation". He likewise expressed his pleasure "at the joint commitment shown recently in the construction of new places of Catholic workshop at a number of sites around the country".

"Macedonians", the Holy Father went on, "show visible signs of those human and Christian values, incarnated in people's lives, which constitute the priceless spiritual and cultural heritage of the nation, one eloquent testimony of which are the stupendous religious monuments built at various times and in various places". The Pope also highlighted how the Holy See considers this heritage "with great respect and consideration, favouring ... historical study and research for a greater knowledge of the cultural and religious past".

"Firm in their spiritual identity", the Macedonian people "will be able to offer European peoples the contribution of their own experience", said Benedict XVI. In this context, he expressed his hope for the success of the country's "growing efforts to become part of the united Europe, while accepting the relative rights and duties, and with reciprocal respect for the collective demands and traditional values of each people".

The commitment of Macedonians to fomenting dialogue and co-existence among the various ethnic and religious groups that make up the country, said the Pope, "has favoured the creation of a climate in which people consider each another as brothers, children of the same God and citizens of one country.

"First and foremost", he added, "it is certainly the task of leaders of institutions to identify ways to translate men and women's aspirations for dialogue and peace into political initiatives. Yet believers know that peace is not just the fruit of human plans and activities, but is above all a gift of God to men and women of good will. Justice and forgiveness represent the columns that hold up this peace. Justice ensures full respect for rights and duties, while forgiveness heals and reconstructs relations among people from their foundations, relations which are still experiencing the consequences of the ideological clashes of the recent past".

The Holy Father continued his address: "Having overcome the tragedy of World War II, and following the sad experience of a totalitarianism that denied the fundamental rights of the human person, the Macedonian people are now on the road to harmonious progress. ... Stable social and economic development cannot but take account of people's cultural, social and spiritual requirements, just as it must make use of the most noble popular traditions and resources". He likewise noted that globalisation, "while on the one hand bringing a certain levelling of social and economic differences could, on the other, aggravate the imbalance between those who take advantage of the increasing possibilities to produce wealth and those who are left on the sidelines of progress".

"My hope is that, in a general context of moral relativism and scant interest in religious experience affecting a part of European society", the Macedonian people "may exercise wise discernment in opening new horizons of authentic civility and true humanism.

"To this end, we must seek to strengthen and maintain the principles that lie at the roots of this people's civilisation, at both the individual and community level", the Pope concluded. These principles include: "dedication to the family, defence of human life and the promotion of religious needs especially among the young. The Catholic Church in your nation", he told the ambassador, "though representing a minority, wishes to make her sincere contribution to building a more just and united society, founded on the Christian values that have enriched the minds of its inhabitants".