Pope Francis has arrived in Bucharest on Friday for a state, pastoral and ecumenical three-day visit, carried out under the generic title “Let’s walk together!.”
The Sovereign Pontiff was welcome, on the Henri Coanda International Airport, by President Klaus Iohannis and his wife Carmen Iohannis.
He was honoured by a military guard.
The Pope is accompanied by Cardinals Pietro Parolin – Secretary of State, Kurt Koch – President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Giovanni Angelo Becciu, head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
Pope Francis was also welcome by Apostolic Nuncio in Romania Miguel Maury Buendia and members of the Conference of Bishops of Romania, headed by Monsignor Ioan Robu, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bucharest.
Metropolitan Nifon, Archbishop of Targoviste, delegate of the Romanian Orthodox Church (BOR) Patriarch Daniel, also participated in the ceremony.
A group of pilgrims, waving flags with the Vatican symbols on one side and the Romanian tricolour on the other sang Marian songs.
The pilgrims, accompanied by their parish priests, chanted “Welcome, Pope Francis!,” “Vivat Papam!”.
The Sovereign Pontiff received a little bunch of flowers from two children, Diana and Octavian Visa, great-grandchildren of Augustin Visa (1904 – 1989), a Greek-Catholic theologist, who was a political prisoner during the Antonescu and the communist regimes, a lawyer and doctor in law, high official at CEC, member of the National Peasant Party from 1927 and chair of the National-Peasant Intellectual Youth from 1936.
From the airport, the Pope went to the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, where the official welcome ceremony was scheduled to take place on the Marinescu Plateau.
Under the heading “Let’s Go Together!”, Pope Francis’s state, pastoral and ecumenical visit to Romania includes, on the first day, meetings with political and civil society leaders, with the leadership of the Romanian Christian Orthodox Church and the Divine Liturgy at the St Joseph Cathedral.
On Saturday, Francis will go to the Marian Shrine at Sumuleu-Ciuc and visit the Saint Queen Mary Cathedral in Iasi.
On Sunday, the apostolic visit ends with a celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Blaj’s Freedom Plains with the beatification of the seven Greek-Catholic martyrs. After that, the Pope has scheduled an appointment for almost an hour with representatives of the local Roma minority.
His Sanctity welcomed to Cotroceni Palace with military honours
Pope Francis was welcomed at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace on Friday with full military honours by Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis at a ceremony held on the Marinescu Plateau.
Iohannis alongside his wife, Carmen, welcomed Pope Francis. The welcoming delegation comprised all presidential and state advisers.
“It is a beautiful day, an important day,” Iohannis said before the arrival of the Pontiff.
The Pope was greeted on the ceremony plateau by a group of children and young people from the National Council of Students, the National Alliance of Romanian Students, the Romanian Youth Council, the Concordia School, the Cantus Mundi and Madrigal choirs, the Romanian National Deaf Association, who waved Romanian flags.
Pope Francis hailed the guard of honor in Romanian. He shook the hands of every member of the presidential delegation and of the Catholic Church delegation. At the end of the ceremony, the people on the Marinescu Plateau shouted “Vivat Papa!” and applauded.
Along the way from the Henri Coanda Airport to Cotroceni Palace, Pope Francis was greeted by thousands of people who waited for the official motorcade. At some point, he opened the windows of the car, a Dacia Logan, to greet back.
Pope Francis: Despite numerous difficulties, Romania has taken many steps forward in democratic project
After the official welcoming at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, Iohannis and Francis had a one-on-one talks. Also at Cotroceni Place the Pope met Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, state officials, leaders of the civil society and member of the diplomatic corps. Iohannis and the Pope then delivered speeches.
Pope Francis declared at Cotroceni Presidential Palace on Friday that despite a host of difficulties and shortcomings, Romania has taken many steps forward in the past 30 years in the democratic project it has committed itself to.
“I am glad to be in your beautiful country, 20 years after the visit of St. John Paul II, when Romania, for the first time since joining the European Union, is holding the EU Council Presidency this half year. This is an opportune time for an overview of the 30 years since Romania has liberated itself from a regime that impeded civil and religious liberty and isolated it from the other European countries and that, in addition, had led to the stagnation of the economy and to the exhaustion of its creative forces. In this time, Romania has embarked on a democratic project through a plurality of political and social forces and through dialogue among them, aiming at the essential recognition of religious freedom and the full integration of the country with a wider international context. It is important to recognize that, despite the numerous difficulties and shortcomings, Romania has taken many steps forward on this path,” Pope Francis said at a meeting with the state officials, leaders of the civil society and the diplomatic corps, at the Union Hall of the Cotroceni Presidential Palace in Bucharest.
He added that “the will to make progress in the various sectors of civil, social life (…) has set free many creative forces that were being held captive and has given a new impetus to multiple initiatives, bringing the country into the 21st century.”
“I encourage you to continue to work towards strengthening the necessary structures and institutions not only in order to meet the rightful aspirations of the citizens, but also in order to stimulate and act in such way that your people use the entire potential we know they have,” added the Pontiff.
“I pay tribute to the sacrifice made by so many sons and daughters of Romania”
Pope Francis on Friday paid tribute to the sacrifices made by “so many sons and daughters of Romania who, with their heritage of values and their work, enrich the countries to which they migrated and the fruits of their employment help their families left in the country.”
The Sovereign Pontiff, currently on a visit to Romania, held a speech at the Cotroceni presidential Palace on Friday, saying that thinking about those who are abroad is “an act of patriotism and fraternity.”
He evoked the evolution of Romania from the period of communism to the modern period. In this context, Pope Francis spoke of “the emergence of inevitable obstacles and consequences that have not always been easy to manage for social stability and for the administration of the territory.”
I am thinking firstly of the phenomenon of emigration, involving several millions of people who have left home and their homeland to look for new opportunities for working and decent living. (…) I am thinking of the depopulation of so many villages that in a few years have seen a considerable part of their inhabitants leaving. I am thinking of the consequences that all these can have on the quality of life in that territory and the weakening of your cultural roots that sustained you in difficult times, said the Sovereign Pontiff, according to official translations.
Pope Francis paid homage to Romanian emigrants.
“Thinking of our brothers and sisters who are abroad is an act of patriotism and fraternity,” the Pope pointed out.
Iohannis: Pontifical diplomacy represents a pacifying and balance”factor in approaching global agenda matters
Pontifical diplomacy continues to represent a “pacifying” and “balance” factor in approaching global agenda matters, President Klaus Iohannis said on Friday, adding that Romanians see Pope Francis’ visit as a new encouragement to contribute to a society of justice and a world of love among people.
“At the end of his visit to Romania, Saint John Paul II left us, on May 9, 1999, a strong message of confidence in our country’s future, in its European vocation, in the role of our civilisation as bridge between the Occident and the Orient. Today, I can confess to you that the message received back then has borne fruit and Romania has found its destiny in the family of united Europe. Less than one week ago, this European destiny was strongly reconfirmed by Romanians in Romania and abroad. Pontifical diplomacy continues to represent a pacifying and balance factor in approaching problems on the global agenda. Faced with contemporary challenges, Romania’s citizens see Your Holiness’ visit as a new encouragement to accomplish themselves by doing good, contributing to a society of justice and to a world of love among people,” Iohannis said, at Pope Francis’ meeting with state authorities, civil society and diplomatic corps representatives, taking place at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.
He showed that it is a great joy to welcome Pope Francis at the Cotroceni Palace.
“You will be for a few days in the land of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Romania’s patron, and I am positive, Holy Father, that in Bucharest, Iasi, Sumuleu Ciuc and Blaj you will be welcomed with the greatest warmth. You will be able to know the country that Saint John Paul II so beautifully named “Virgin Mary’s Garden.” In our turn, we shall be happy to be the hosts of the Bishop of Rome, the place of the roots of our language and faith,” Iohannis said.
He brought to mind that in this period Romania is holding its first mandate at the EU Council Presidency.
“As you have highlighted on several occasions, we must take care of our common home – Europe,” the head of state said, pointing out that through the declaration adopted on May 9 at the Sibiu Summit the European leaders clearly reaffirmed “the will to work together for a Europe reunited in peace and democracy, one single Europe, led by its values and liberties.”
“Romania is an example of good practice in observance of national minorities’ rights”
President Klaus Iohannis also said on Friday that Europe needs models of peaceful coexistence, models of dialogue between the majority and minorities, dialogue among cultures, underscoring that Romania is an example of good practice as far as the observance of minorities’ rights is concerned.
“In a world marked by complex phenomena, Europe needs today, perhaps more than ever, models of peaceful coexistence, models of dialogue between the majority and minorities, dialogue among cultures, which provide benchmarks for strengthening tolerance and mutual respect. Romania is an example of good practice by the way it ensured and is still ensuring the observance of the rights of people belonging to 20 historical national minorities on its soil,” Iohannis emphasised at Pope Francis’ meeting with the state officials, civil society and the diplomatic corps representatives, taking place at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace in Bucharest.
PM Dancila, private audience to Pope Francis, evokes need for unity, solidarity in Europe: The pilgrimage alongside His Sanctity is a endless joy and and an occasion of reflection upon the values that unite us
Prime Minister Viorica Dancila on Friday had a private audience to Pope Francis who is on a 3-day state and apostolic visit to Romania, during which she evoked the need for unity and solidarity at European level, a release by the gov’t reads.
The head of the Executive thanked His Sanctity for the generous attention he shows to the relationship with Romania and mentioned the meeting she had on the occasion of her visit to the Vatican in May 2018.
The Romanian Premier expressed joy for the apostolic travel the Holy Father pays to Romania, where he is expected with warmth and hope by the Romanian people, and stressed the special significance of His Sanctity’s visit in the context of Romania’s holding the rotating Presidency of the EU Council, the 30-year celebration since the fall of communism and 20 years since the apostolic visit of Pope John Paul II in Bucharest.
“During talks, the Premier emphasised the attention given by Romania to the religious freedom and mentioned in this respect the international conference organised at the beginning of June by the Romanian gov’t dedicated to the analysis of the ways to advocate the ecumenical dialogue and with the religious organisations, included in the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council’s programme,” the release says.
The two high dignitaries have also addressed the migration topic, a phenomenon that preoccupies the Holy See and for which the European Union and its Member States have to find the most adequate answers.
A symbolic watch, an album about Roman-Catholic Church in Romania offered by PM Dancila to Pope Francis
A symbolic watch and an album about the Roman-Catholic Church in Romania are the gifts the Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila offered on Friday to Pope Francis on her private audience.
According to a Gov’t information, the watch is manufactured by a Romanian, having Saint Francis of Assisi on its dial, inspired by a Giotto fresco. The dial exhibits three symbolic elements: a stone of Argentina (rhodochrosite) since the Sovereign Pontiff is an Argentinian, a volcanic rock from Etna and a price of Romanian soil. On the back of the watch on the very mechanism of it lays a piece of malachite (supposed to have been used to achieving the ‘Voronet blue’). The watch strap is of calf leather dark brown hand-made by a Romanian too, very close to the colour of the clothes worn by the Franciscan monks.
The other gift from the Premier to the Pontiff is the “Roman-Catholic Church in Romania Album: history, spirituality and heritage”, edited at PAIDEIA Publishing House with support of the State Secretariat for the Cults.
In a message on Twitter, premier Dancila says the pilgrimage alongside His Sanctity is “a endless joy and and an occasion of reflection upon the values that unite us”.”I join with all my conviction to the call of His Sanctity @Pontifex ‘Let’s walk together’, with the heart open in unity, solidarity and faith,” Viorica Dancila wrote on Twitter.
His Sanctity at Patriarchal Palace: I came as a pilgrim of brotherhood
Pope Francis said at the Patriarchal Palace in Bucharest that he came as a pilgrim of brotherhood and referenced Pope John Paul II’s visit to Romania in 1999.
“Twenty years ago, in front of this Holy Synod, Pope John Paul II said ‘I have come to contemplate the Face of Christ etched in your Church; I have come to venerate this suffering Face, the pledge to you of new hope.’ I too have come here as a pilgrim, as a pilgrim brother, desirous of seeing the Lord’s Face in the faces of my brothers; looking at you I offer you my heartfelt thanks for your welcome,” Pope Francis said at the meeting with the Permanent Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church at the Patriarchal Palace.
His Holiness also mentioned the crowds’ spontaneous cry for unity during the Bucharest visit of Pope John Paul II.
“It was an announcement of hope from the People of God, a prophecy that ushered in a new time: the time of walking together to rediscover and awaken the fraternity that already unites us. Let us walk together with the power of memory. Not with the memory of the injustices suffered or caused, of the judgments and prejudices that lock us in a vicious circle and determine us to have sterile attitudes, but with the memory of the roots, of the first centuries when the Gospel, proclaimed with courage and prophetic spirit, has met and lighted new nations and cultures, of the first-century martyrs, of the Holy Fathers confessors of faith, of the holiness lived in everyday life and preached by so many simple people who share the same Heaven. Thanks to God, our roots are healthy and powerful, and even though they have suffered distortions and the trials of time while growing, we are called, like the psalmist, to remember with gratefulness what God has worked inside us, to exalt to Him a hymn of praise for one another. The memory of the steps we have taken together encourages us to advance towards the future, certainly aware of the differences, but above all, finding the satisfaction of the family atmosphere, reviving the memory of communion which, like a torch, should light the steps of our journey. Let us walk together in obedience to the Lord. We have as an example what Christ did on the day of Passover, as he walked together with his disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were discussing what had happened, about their anxieties, their doubts, and their questions. The Lord listened patiently to them and spoke to them with open heart, helping them understand and discern the events. We too need to listen together to the Lord, especially in these final times, where the world’s roads have led to rapid social and cultural changes,” said Pope Francis.
His Holiness pointed out that the bonds of faith that unite the two Churches date back to the Apostles, and arise in particular from the bond between Peter and Andrew.
“Here – as in so many other places nowadays – you have experienced the Passover of death and resurrection: so many sons and daughters of this country, from various Churches and Christian communities, knew the Friday of persecution, endured the Saturday of silence and experienced the Sunday of resurrection. So many martyrs and confessors of faith! Many, belonging to different confessions, have shared the same prison, offering each other support. Today their example stands before us and before the new generations that have not experienced those dramatic conditions. The reason they have suffered so much that they even gave up their lives is too precious an inheritance to be forgotten or tarnished. It is a common inheritance that urges us to not move away from the brother who shares it. United with Christ in suffering and pain, united by Christ in Resurrection, so that we too might ‘walk in a new life’,” the Pope said in his address.
Sovereign Pontiff: We need to help each other not to surrender to seduction of hate culture, individualism
Globalisation contributed to uprooting the peoples’ values, on Friday said Pope Francis, stressing that the people need not to surrender to “the seduction of the hate culture and individualism”.
“Many have benefitted from the technological progress and economic welfare, but the most remained inexorably excluded, while the globalisation that imposes conformation contributed to the uprooting of the values of the peoples, weakening the ethics and the cohabitation, polluted in the last years by an overwhelming feeling of fear that often artistically intensified, leads to shutdown and hatred. We need to help each other not to surrender to the seduction of the hate culture and individualism which although is not that ideological as it used to be in the atheist persecution times, it still is more convincing and not less materialistic. It often recommends as a means of development what shows up immediate and resolvable, but in fact it is indifferent and superficial,” Pope Francis said at his meeting with the Permanent Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church at the Patriarchal Palace.
The Pontiff emphasised that the fragility of bonds that leads to the people’s isolation has repercussions in particular upon the family and that the difficulties must be faced by “the wish to communicate Jesus Resurrected, the core of hope”.
Pope Francis said that a good example is given by the Romanian orthodox communities that collaborate very well with many Catholic dioceses in Western Europe where they operate.
He conveyed his and the Catholic Church’s affection, friendship and prayer.
“Let us walk together to new Pentecost. The trail waiting for us is leading from Easter to Pentecost: from the pascal dawn of the unity, arisen here 20 years ago, we have kicked off on our trail to new Pentecost. For the disciples, the Easter meant the beginning of a new road from where fear and uncertainty had not vanished yet. This lasted until the Pentecost when gathered around the Holy Mother of Our Lord, the apostles in one Spirit and in the diversity and richness of languages have confessed the Risen One through word and life. We go on on our way from the certainty to having a brother next to us until the sharing of faith based on the resurrection of the same Christ. From Easter to Pentecost: a time to get together in prayer under the protection of the Holy Mother of our Lord, to invoke the Holy Spirit for one another. Let the Holy Spirit renew us, the Holy Spirit who rejects uniformity and loves to shape unity in its most beautiful and harmonious diversity. I renew here my gratitude and assure you of my and the Catholic Church’s affection, friendship and prayer,” was the message of the Pontiff.
Patriarch Daniel: Our predecessors are calling us to defend and promote the Christian values
Both Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Teoctist used to be champions of the Christian faith and felt in their activity the help of Jesus Christ, on Friday said Daniel, the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, at his meeting with Pope Francis.
“With the pascal salute ‘Christ has Risen!’ we welcome you in this hall of the Patriarchal Palace where on 8th of May 1999, Pope John Paul II was welcomed by Patriarch Teoctist and several members of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church. This hall is symbolically dubbed Conventus in Latin, which means Reunion. Pope John Paul II during his episcopate in Poland and Patriarch Teoctist, as a bishop in Romania, have shared a common spiritual experience, namely they knew the hard years of the communist regime when the Church was marginalised and persecuted. Which is why, their meeting in Bucharest in 7 – 9 May 1999, was marked by the joy of the Christians’ religious freedom and amplified by the celebration of the Holy Easter. Both Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Teoctist used to be the champions of the Christian faith and felt in their activity the help of Jesus Christ the Crucified and Resurrected. In this respect, our predecessors are calling us too, today to defend and promote the faith in Jesus Christ and the Christian values in a Europe that has been secularised to convey to the young generation the faith in the merciful love of Christ for the world and the faith in the eternal life of the human person. Moreover, they call us to confess, to defend, to promote the traditional Christian family made up of man, woman, children, in a Europe with an obvious fall, a continent that grows old rapidly,” the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church said at the meeting of Pope Francis with the BOR Permanent Synod at the Patriarchal Palace.
He also spoke of the Gospel, saying that “Preaching the Gospel of Christ means today to put together Liturgy with philanthropy, the prayer with the social action in helping the poor, the ill and the marginalised. At the same time, the Gospel of Christ is calling us to promote justice, reconciliation and solidarity in the society so that the love of Jesus Christ for all the people be perceived as a blessing, as peace and joy, for persons and for peoples,” Patriarch Daniel said.
Patriarch Daniel thanks for Pope John Paul II’s aid to build National Cathedral
He thanked in a speech given at the National Cathedral, in the presence of Pope Francis, for the financial aid given by Pope John Paul II for the construction of the edifice.
“Twenty years ago, on 7-9 May, 1999, when Pope John Paul II visited Romania as a pilgrim, he called this country The Garden of the Mother of God. So today, we receive you a pilgrim in this new Cathedral, in which above the Shrine (the Sanctuary) there is the great icon in the mosaic of the Virgin Mary, called in Greek “Platytera”, and in the Latin “Regina coeli.” This icon of the National Cathedral in Bucharest symbolically confirms the name of the “Garden of the Mother of God” given to Romania. This Cathedral has as a spiritual protector the feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we celebrate also the Romanian Heroes, as a national holiday,” said Patriarch Daniel.
He added that this cathedral is “a Basilica dedicated to the Holy Apostle Andrew, the Apostle of the Romanian people and the Protector of Romania”.
Patriarch Daniel also said that the Cathedral was built on a plot of land obtained from the Romanian state by Patriarch Teoctist “as an act of moral reparation for the five churches that existed in this area, three being demolished and two moved by the communist regime to build the People’s House (Palace of Parliament, ed. n.).”
He referred to the fact that in the years of 1999 and 2002 Pope John Paul II offered financial aid to the Patriarch Teoctist for the construction of the Cathedral, amounting to 200,000 dollars.
Sovereign Pontiff welcomed with thousands of yellow, tricolour small flags at St Joseph Cathedral
Pope Francis has reached the Saint Joseph Cathedral to attend Holy Liturgy and deliver a homily.
The Pontiff traveled the way from the National Cathedral to the St. Joseph Cathedral in his Romanian-made Popemobile, saluting on his road the thousands of people who were waving the Holy See yellow and the Romanian tricolour small flags.
The people were chanting ‘Vivat Papa’.