Pope Francis Will Make Papal Visit To Bulgaria And Macedonia

Tags: Currents Pope Francis, World News

Currents News Staff

This Sunday, the Regina Coeli won’t be prayed by the Pope in St. Peter’s Square, as he will just have begun his three-day trip to the Balkan countries of Bulgaria and North Macedonia.

Pope Francis’ 29th trip of his pontificate will take place May 5-7.

He is the first Bishop of Rome to visit North Macedonia and second to visit Bulgaria, after Pope John Paul II visited in 2002.

As such, one purpose of the visit is to improve relations with the Orthodox churches. Yet, they have their own internal conflicts. For example, Bulgaria’s Orthodox community refused to participate in the September 2016 Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, or in the Pan-Orthodox Council this past March.

Meanwhile, Macedonia’s Orthodox community has separated themselves from the others and is no longer recognized.

Another issue on the table is migration. Countless refugees coming from the Middle East and Africa have recently caused tensions in these areas, where Christians, Muslims and Jewish people were previously living in peace.

While there, Pope Francis will visit a refugee camp and also participate in an inter-religious act for peace. He will also pray before the Throne of Cyril and Methodius, patrons of Europe.

The Pope believes Pope Saint John XXIII, who was an apostolic visitor in Bulgaria, and Saint Mother Teresa, who was born in North Macedonia, will especially intercede for him on the trip. In her honor, he will pray before the Memorial of Mother Teresa and visit with the poor on Tuesday before returning to Rome.

Through the Pope’s expected speeches tackling ecumenism and migration, he is sending a political message to both of these countries who once suffered under communist rule.