Pope Francis Hopes To Ease Religious Tensions During Visit To Romania

Tags: Currents Faith, Pope Francis, World News

Currents News Staff

Pope Francis will visit Romania from May 31-June 2.

He will be following in the footsteps of St. Pope John Paul II, who was there in 1999 as the first pope to visit an Orthodox-majority country.

“I will go to Romania, a beautiful and welcoming country, as a pilgrim and brother,” the Holy Father said in a video message addressing Romanians in the days before starting his 30th international trip.

On Friday, May 31, he will arrive in Bucharest where he will meet with the country’s civil authorities.

Then he will meet the Orthodox Patriarch of Romania and the Permanent Synod of the Romanian Church, an important moment for the three religious leaders who currently have strained relations.

Pope Francis will visit and pray with the patriarch at the new Orthodox Cathedral, an impressive building that St. Pope John Paul II donated close to $200,000 to help build.

The day will conclude with a Mass at the Catholic Cathedral in which more than 30,000 people could attend.

On Saturday, Pope Francis will visit a very important Marian sanctuary for Romanians and Hungarians, Our Lady of Csíksomlyó.

For Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who will be traveling with the pontiff during the trip, that moment will be an occasion to overcome religious divisions between the two Christian faiths.

“His presence in this Marian shrine will be a message for all to overcome divisions, including historical divisions. To find what unites us, above all, from a faith point of view,” Cardinal Parolin said.

In the northern town of Iasi, Pope Francis will meet with families and young people. More than 100,000 people could participate in the meeting.

Romania is a country especially marked by the Communist regime’s religious persecution. For this reason, one of the most touching moments will be the beatification of seven martyrs. The ceremony will be on Sunday in Blaj, in the center of Romania.

“Among you there were many martyrs,” said Pope Francis in his address to the people of Romania.

“Also in recent times, like the seven Greek-Catholic bishops who I will have the joy of proclaiming ‘blesseds.’ What they have suffered, to the point of offering life, is too precious a heritage to be forgotten. It is a common heritage that calls us not to distance ourselves from the brother with whom we share it.”

Before leaving the country, he will meet with some of the Romani people. Pope Francis will leave Romania on Sunday, June 2, at 5 p.m.