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August 8, 2022

Pope Benedict XVI could visit Romania next year

An invitation from Patriarch Daniel, the head of the Romanian Orthodox Church could next year bring Pope Benedict XVI in an official visit, according to Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi.

The head of diplomacy said he hoped for the Orthodox Church Holly Assembly to green light the invitation in Patriarch Daniel’s next year visit to Vatican.

According to a spokesman of the Romanian patriarchy, an assembly’s de principio nod has been given since June this year. “Details of the visit have to be diplomatically established between the Romanian state and the Vatican and also have to be convened upon in an accord between the Romanian Patriarchy and the Catholic Church,” he told ‘Gandul’ daily.

As this is not usually considered a simple protocol procedure, all details of the Pope’s visit must be very thoroughly established.

From May 7, 1999 to May 9, 1999 Pope John Paul II made an official visit to Romania. It was the first papal trip to a predominantly Orthodox country in more than 1,000 years. He attended an Orthodox liturgy on May 9, 1999, marking the first time a pope has ever attended an Orthodox service.

But that visit took eight years to organize and put together, according to Victor Opaschi, former presidential aide who worked in the Iliescu administration. “It took a lot of work and preparation, every step of the event was carefully planned. At the time, President Iliescu was the one who made the official invite to Pope John Paul II in an official letter, first and then renewed it in an official visit to Vatican.

In a thank you note, the pontiff sent Iliescu a letter arguing that, in order to honour the invitation, an official letter should be sent from the representatives of Romania’s majority church.

The Orthodox Church spokesman Constantin Stoica says the visit “should be organized in a year that has spiritual meanings for the two churches.”

The first step in inviting Pope Benedict to Romania was made by President Basescu in September 2008. In April this year, in an official visit to Vatican, Minister Baconschi has repeated the invite, and a few days later the Orthodox Church said such a visit could be possible.

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