Pope Francis begins his visit to Romania; Transylvania Film Festival kicks off in Cluj
POPE FRANCIS Pope Francis is on a 3-day state and apostolic visit to Romania, starting today. The visit, whose motto is “Let’s Walk Together”, takes place 20 years after John Paul II was the first Pope to come to this mostly Orthodox country. The programme in Bucharest today includes meetings with political officials and civil society members, and with the leaders of the Romanian Orthodox Church. A liturgy will be performed at the St. Joseph Catholic Cathedral. As many as 50,000 believers will be present, in and around the cathedral, and 15 screens will be mounted in Bucharest streets for people to be able to watch the ceremony, performed by the Pope in Latin. On Saturday, Pope Francis will be in Şumuleu Ciuc, in a part of Transylvania mostly inhabited by Hungarian Roman Catholics, and in Iasi, in the north-east, a city that is home to a sizeable Romanian Catholic community. On Sunday, His Holiness will travel to Blaj, in central Transylvania, the spiritual capital of Romanian Greek Catholics, where he will beatify 7 Greek Catholic bishops who died for their faith during the communist regime. The Romanian Greek Catholic Church was outlawed and deprived of its assets shortly after the communists seized power, and many clerics and believers were imprisoned. Also in Blaj, the Pope will have a meeting with members of the local Roma community. The visit entailed high-level security measures in the capital city Bucharest, where road traffic restrictions have been introduced and all schools have suspended today’s classes.
FILM Cluj-Napoca in north-western Romania is hosting, starting today until June 8, the 18th edition of the Transylvania International Film Festival. Running in the TIFF official competition are 12 productions, but more than 200 films will be screened as part of the Festival. This year’s edition celebrates 3 major film industries: the French, Chinese and Albanian. Romanian filmmakers are also well represented, with over 40 productions. Actor Nicolas Cage will receive an award for his contribution to the development of world cinema.
EU European Union member states spent in 2016 more than 350 billion euros (2.4% of the Union’s GDP) on families and children, accounting for 9% of the total social protection spending, according to data made public on Friday by the European Statistics Office (Eurostat). The lowest annual expenditure for family and child protection, below 200 euro/capita, was reported in Romania and Bulgaria (120 euro each), Lithuania (150 euro) and Greece (170 euro), and the highest in Luxemburg (3,000 euro/capita), Denmark (1,700 euro), Sweden (1,400 euro), Germany and Finland (1,200 euro). The Eurostat data were made public ahead of the International Children’s Day, celebrated around the world on June 1.
ARRESTS Four Romanian and 2 Bulgarian citizens are being investigated for migrant smuggling and for forming an organised crime group, after being apprehended by the Calafat Border Police in south-western Romania trying to cross the Danube on a boat with 7 Iranian citizens attempting to enter Romania illegally. The Border Police Inspectorate General announced on Friday that the 4 Romanians said they were helping the group travel to the west of the country, from where they could get into a Schengen country. The police also said that under a Romanian-Bulgarian protocol, the 7 Iranian citizens were handed over to the Bulgarian border authorities.
TENNIS The Romanian tennis player Simona Halep, the defending Roland Garros champion and seed no. 3, qualified on Thursday into the tournament’s 3rd round, after defeating Magda Linette of Poland in 3 sets. In the next stage, Halep will play against the winner of the match between Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia and Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine. The game was suspended on Thursday for light. Irina Begu is the other Romanian player qualified in the Roland Garros singles 3rd round. She will take on Amanda Anisimova (USA).
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)