Pope Francis said he hopes his visit to Romania will strengthen the bonds of faith that unite Orthodox and Catholics in the country.
The ties between the two Churches date back to the apostles Peter and Andrew, who were “blood brothers and shed their blood for the Lord”, like the seven bishop-martyrs of the Eastern-rite Romanian Catholic Church, who died during a fierce anti-religious campaign waged under the communist regime in Romania.
“What they have suffered for, even to the point of offering their lives, is too precious a legacy to be forgotten,” the pope said in a recent video message to the people of Romania. “And it is a common inheritance, which calls us not to distance ourselves from the brother or sister who shares it.”
The pope will visit Romania from tomorrow, 31st May, to 2nd June and beatify the martyred bishops.
Almost 82 per cent of the country’s 20 million inhabitants say they belong to the Orthodox Church while over four per cent identify as Catholic, belonging either to the Romanian Catholic Church – an Eastern rite – or the Latin rite.
Picture: This is the logo for Pope Francis’ trip to Romania in late May to call for unity and a greater focus on the common good. The theme of the visit is ‘Let’s walk together’ and shows Mary, the Mother of God, protecting the people of God in Romania, a country St John Paul II visited in 1999. It will be Pope Francis’ fifth trip in the first six months of 2019. (CNS image/courtesy Holy See Press Office).