05/31/2019, 17.51
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Pope in Romania: Orthodox and Catholics must "journey together"

The meeting with the Patriarch and the Orthodox Synod the focus of the first day of Francis's visit: remembering not wrongs and prejudices, but common roots.  In the meeting with the political and civil authorities the search for the common good to "build an inclusive society" where "the weak, the poor and the least are no longer seen as undesirables".


Bucharest (AsiaNews) - "Journeying together", Orthodox and Catholics, in a time in which "the majority  have been inexorably excluded" from the well-being brought by technological development which, along with progress, promotes "a 'culture of hatred' and individualism" and while perhaps no longer ideological as in the times of the atheist persecution, it is nevertheless more persuasive and no less materialistic ”.  

Pope Francis is in Romania, where he arrived this morning, for a visit with a strong ecumenical value in one of the countries where, as in Ukraine, the Greek-Catholic Church saw the hardest persecutions by the communist regime, until it was dissolved by  law, while its goods and his faithful were "ceded" to the Orthodox Church.

Sunday's beatification in Blaj Transylvania, of seven bishops who were martyred in those years bears witness to this past while  the values​of a fraternity that seeks the path to unity seen today are its greatest legacy. 

This is the feeling that pervaded the meeting, in Bucharest, with the Patriarch of Romania, Daniel, and then with the permanent Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church and finally with the recitation, together, of the Our Father, in the Orthodox cathedral.  "A common prayer", underlined the Pope, in which "our identity as children and, today in a particular way, as brothers who pray next to each other" is enclosed.

It was the second meeting of Francis in Romania, after the official welcome from the President of the Republic Klaus Werner Iohannis and the meeting with political, social and diplomatic authorities of the country.

This meeting is also marked by the invitation to "journey together" for the common good of the Romanian people, remembering that this "requires a noble willingness to sacrifice something of one’s own vision or best interest for the sake of a greater project", to" build an inclusive society" where "the weak, the poor and the least are no longer seen as undesirables".

Recalling the times of the dictatorship and the thirty years that have passed since the fall of the Ceausescu regime, which "oppressed civil and religious freedom" and isolated Romania, Francis said that "In these years, Romania has been committed to building a sound democracy through the plurality of its political and social forces and their reciprocal dialogue, through the fundamental recognition of religious freedom and through the country’s full participation on the greater international stage.  It is important to acknowledge the great strides made on this journey, despite significant difficulties and privations."  This is how the journey has produced consequences such as "of emigration and the several million people who have had to leave their homes and country in order to seek new opportunities for employment and a dignified existence."

 "To face the problems of this new historical phase", the Pope said "It is necessary to move forward together in unity and conviction in following the highest calling to which every state must aspire: that of responsibility for the common good of its people.  To move forward together, as a way of shaping the future, requires a noble willingness to sacrifice something of one’s own vision or best interest for the sake of a greater project." The Christian Churches can contribute to this by committing themselves to being "a credible reflection of God’s presence and an attractive witness to his works, and, in this way, they grow in authentic mutual friendship and cooperation."

These are the themes also at the center of the visit that the Pope made in the afternoon to the Patriarch and the Orthodox Synod.

Received by the patriarch Daniel at the entrance of the Palace of the Patriarchate, Francis had a private conversation with the Patriarch, before the meeting with the Synod, to which he addressed a speech.  "Here - as in so many other places in our times - you have experienced the Easter of death and resurrection: so many sons and daughters of this country, of various Churches and Christian communities, suffered the Friday of the persecution, they crossed the Sabbath of silence,  they experienced the Sunday of rebirth.  How many martyrs and confessors of the faith!  Many, of different denominations, have recently been side by side in prisons supporting each other.  Their example stands today before us and the new generations who have not known those dramatic conditions.  What they have suffered, to the point of offering life, is too precious a heritage to be forgotten or disgraced.  And it is a common heritage, which calls us not to distance ourselves from the brother who shares it ”.

And now "journeying together with the power of memory.  Not the memory of the wrongs suffered and inflicted, of judgments and prejudices, which enclose us in a vicious circle and lead to sterile attitudes, but the memory of our roots: the first centuries in which the Gospel, announced with pharresia and spirit of prophecy, encountered and illuminated new peoples and cultures".  "The memory of the steps taken together - he concluded - encourages us to continue towards the future in the awareness - certainly - of the differences but above all in the action of graces of a family atmosphere to be rediscovered, in the memory of communion to revive, that as a lamp  throw light on the steps of our journey ”.

In this perspective, the recitation of the Our Father, together, in the new Orthodox Cathedral of the Salvation of the People was significant.  "Jesus - said Francis before the recitation of the prayer - called the brothers Andrew and Peter to leave their nets to become fishers of men together (see Mk 1,16-17).  His own call is not complete without that of his brother.  Today we want to arise together, side by side, "lifting together, from the heart of the country, the common prayer of the Our Father.  It contains our identity as children and, today in a particular way, as brothers who pray next to each other.  The prayer of the Our Father contains the certainty of the promise made by Jesus to his disciples: "I will not leave you orphans" (Jn 14:18) and offers us the confidence to receive and welcome the gift of our brother ".  "Every time we say" our Father "we reiterate that the word Father cannot stand without saying ours.  United in Jesus' prayer, we also join in his experience of love and intercession which leads us to say: my Father and your Father, my God and your God (see Jn 20:17).  It is the invitation that "my" be transformed into ours and ours become prayer ".  (FP)

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