The significance of the visit Pope Francis paid to Romania

the significance of the visit pope francis paid to romania 20 years since the first visit of a Sovereign Pontiff to an Orthodox majority country, the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis paid a visit to Romania

20 years since the first visit of a Sovereign Pontiff to an Orthodox majority country, the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis paid a visit to Romania, which was under the sign of the unity of all Christians. The first moments of the visit had a diplomatic touch, the Sovereign Pontiff speaking about the fraternity of blood equally claimed by Catholicism and Orthodoxy:

"The bonds of faith which unite us date back to the Apostles, witnesses of the risen Jesus, particularly to the bond that united Peter and Andrew, who according to tradition, brought Christianity to your lands. Blood brothers, they were also in an exceptional way brothers in shedding their blood for the Lord. They remind us there is a fraternity of blood which precedes us and which as a silent and life-givng stream flowing down the centuries has never ceased to nourish and sustain us on our journey."

On the other hand, Pope Francis noted the progress which Romania has made in the last 30 years when it has committed itself to a democratic project, despite numerous difficulties and shortcomings it has been confronted with. The symbolic significance of the Pope's visit to Romania consists in what he defined as the human price paid by Romania to step into the 21st century - the diaspora and the role of the church in serving the whole community - theologian and priest Radu Preda told Radio Romania International:

"It is clear that as regards the social and ethical message, there is a very wide range of contact and even of identification of values between Orthodox and Catholic Christians. The Pope is not only a vector of image of a single person, but also the synthesis of history where surely, there are also less pleasant moments related at least to us, Orthodox believers. But all in all, in the current international circumstances, it is clear that we need a bigger Christian solidarity than we have proved to have so far. The Pope underscored the human price we pay for Romania to reach the 21st century. Millions of co-nationals, our brothers and sisters, as he put it so well, left their country where unfortunately, they could not see their dream come true, adding more value in other countries, primarily in Italy. Let's not forget that the Romanian community in Italy, if I am not mistaken, is the largest one, followed by the one in Spain and if I am not mistaken by the one in Germany. So, emphasis is laid on the diaspora."

Pope Francis paid hommage to the sacrifice made by the sons and daughters of Romania, who through their culture, their values and work, enrich the countries where they emigrated and who through the fruit of their work help their families back home. Unlike the pastoral visit which Pope John Paul the 2nd paid to Romania in 1999 and which had a predominantly ecumenical focus, also benefitting from the invitation of the Romanian Orthodox Church, in addition to that of the state officials, Pope Francis came to Romania at the invitation of its president and of the Catholic Church in Romania. Through liturgical celebrations, his visit had a pastoral character being first of all focused on Catholic believers. There were a few firsts in the apostolic visit by Pope Francis to Romania: it lasted three days, which had never happened in any other European country, the Pope equally visiting Catholic Christians in their linguistic and liturgical diversity and the Orthodox Christians. The last day of the Pope's visit, focusing on the Greek-Catholic Church, had a special symbolic touch. On the Freedom Plain in the central town of Blaj, the Pope beatified seven Greek-Catholic bishops, martyred by the former communist regime, who were jailed and tortured and who died of maltreatment, opposing a system that repressed basic human rights as the Sovereign Pontiff recalled. Wilhelm Danca, the dean of the Roman-Catholic Faculty of Theology in Bucharest, spoke about the Pope's visit to Romania:

"In the Balkan area, I find this meeting very important. North of Romania, in Ukraine, there are fractures, division and separation within the Orthodox Church, tendencies of breaking and fragmentation of Christian unity. There are two or even three churches there: one is related to Moscow, another one to Constantinople and the last one is autonomous. In the Republic of Moldova there are two communities: a metropolitan bishopric which is related to Moscow and another one related to Bucharest. South of Romania, in Bulgaria, the Orthodox Church is related to Moscow, not to Constantinople. The church in the Republic of North Macedonia broke away from Serbia and wants to join the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria. You see, these are tendencies of relocation, of separation, of unification and the only church conveying a message of unity, somehow as a unitary church, is the Romanian Orthodox Church. "

"I came to this beautiful and welcoming country as a pilgrim and brother for various meetings. And now I go back home enriched, taking with me places and moments and especially faces. Your faces will lend colour to my memories and will be present in my prayer. Thank you and I'll take you with me. And now I'm blessing you but first of all I want to ask you a great favour: pray for me! - the Sovereign Pontiff said at the end of his visit to Romania.
Publicat: 2019-08-16 12:13:00
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