By Emily Drooby
Pope Francis is visiting Romania, three decades after the nation was liberated from communist rule.
The regime, as well as poverty, had forced many to leave the country. The Holy Father had them in mind when speaking to Romania’s civic leaders.
“I think of all the brothers and sisters who are abroad,” he said in his address.
“It is an act of patriotism, an act of brotherhood. it is an act of justice, continue to do so.”
Besides meeting the first couple of Romania, Pope Francis was also greeted by the top clergy of Romania’s Orthodox Church and the country’s Catholic bishops.
The first person Pope Francis spoke with: a young man in a wheelchair.
The Holy Father applauded the Romania of today and its establishment of democracy, adding that for Romania to move forward it must be unified, especially spiritually.
“It is necessary to walk together. It requires developing not just material conditions, but the very soul of your people,” he said.
Pope Francis also spoke on the importance of building an inclusive society, insisting that caring for the poor is how the nation’s success will be measured.
“We need to help one another, to not give in to the seductions of a ‘culture of hate’ and individualism that – perhaps no longer ideological as in the time of the atheist persecution – is nonetheless more persuasive and no less materialist.”
Forging Christian unity was an important part of Pope Francis’ mission, as he also spent time at the headquarters of the Orthodox Church, Romania’s main religion.
The journey’s motto has been ‘let’s walk together.’
The Holy Father also recited the Our Father prayer while at the Orthodox cathedral. He made history by reciting the prayer in Latin, the first time it had ever been done at the cathedral.
The big close to day one was Mass at the Catholic Cathedral of St. Joseph in Bucharest. It was the first celebration of the liturgy there by a pope since Saint John Paul II in 1999.