The Apostolic Visit of Pope Francis in Romania takes place thirty years after the fall of the Communism, twenty years after of the Apostolic Visit of Saint John Paul II and twelve years after joining the European Union.
One might say that the first papal visit was mainly a visit to the Orthodoxy – was the first time that a Pope visited a country with a majority of orthodox believers –. Pope Francis’ Visit is instead a visit to Romania, with a very clear pastoral attention towards those Catholic Communities that John Paul II could not visit, even if he expressed that wish. For that reason, besides the events in Bucharest, the Successor of Saint Peter Apostle will go for the first time in history to Moldavia and Transylvania. In Iaşi, He will meet the Youth and the Families. At the Marian Shrine of Şumuleu Ciuc, in Harghita province, will preside over the Holy Mass in honor of the Mother of God, which predictably will be the most crowded public act in the history of Transylvania and the whole Romania. In Blaj, place called by the national poet Mihai Eminescu “the little Rome”, the Pope will beatify seven Bishops Greek-Catholics martyrs of the Communism.
At the Capital, in the first day of the Visit, Pope Francis will make a courtesy visit to the Romanian President and to the Authorities who invited Him at Cotroceni Palace. He will also meet with Patriarch Daniel and Permanent Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church at the Patriarchy. He will have a prayer service at the Orthodox National Cathedral still under construction and for which Pope John Paul II gave twice a meaningful donation. The day will end celebrating the Holy Mass at the historical Catholic Cathedral of Saint Joseph. I would like to invite the Bucharest citizens to go out in the streets and to welcome the Pope, as he will move throughout the city with the popemobile, in order to have an unforgettable memory of this historic moment of grace, in the same way that when came Saint John Paul II.
Twenty years ago Romania was knocking at the European Community’s door, today it detains the six-monthly presidency of the European Council. Many things have change positively since then in the Country. Nevertheless, it is not yet in place a recuperating process after the fall of Communism as it would be desirable. There still are important social and religious issues not solved, as the restitution of many properties abusively expropriated or the reconciliation between the Romanian Byzantine Churches – Orthodox and Greek Catholic – for those reasons the Pope invites to establish an atmosphere of cooperation and understanding among all. “Let’s walk together” (să mergem împreună) is the motto of this papal visit.
There is a huge expectation and a sincere wish to overcome many confrontations going on. History teaches us that the respect of diversity and integration are the path for peace. The national extremism represents a danger for the whole world, but when the majorities tend to intolerance they take the way of the totalitarianisms that devastated the twentieth Century. For that reason, the Holy Father continues his call for acceptance of the others and for true fraternity.
At this stage of Pope Francis’ Pontificate, the whole world has already understood His preferential option for the marginalized from all sectors in society, never mind if from social or economic level, and His insistence that the Church follows the dictates of the Gospel. In this sense, one might note that the Visit to Romania concludes with a stopover at a church built by the Roma community of Blaj. Thousands of their brothers will follow with deep emotion this meeting through the mass media from all around the world. I hope that the heart of all Romanians will be filled with peace and joy after this historical Visit and People will get closer one to another.
Pope Francis starts Apostolic visit to Romania. The Sovereign Pontiff will visit all historical regions and will beatify seven bishops martyred in the fight against communism. “I come to Romania, a beautiful and welcoming country, as a pilgrim and a brother”