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Pope Visits Romania In Effort To Strengthen Orthodox-Catholic Ties


Pope Francis stands next to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and his wife, Carmen, during a welcome ceremony at the Cotroceni Palace in Bucharest on May 31.

Pope Francis has arrived in Romania for a three-day visit as he continues efforts to bolster ties between Orthodox Christians and Catholics in Eastern Europe.

The pontiff’s trip to Orthodox-majority Romania, which begins on May 31, follows his visits to Bulgaria and North Macedonia earlier in the month.

Francis was met at the airport in Bucharest by President Klaus Iohannis. He was also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Viorica Dancila and give a televised address to the nation.

Catholics make up about 5 percent of Romania’s population of 20 million people, according to government statistics.

Pope John Paul II traveled to Romania in 1999, part of a Vatican effort to mend ties with the global Orthodox Church, which split with Rome in the Great Schism of 1054.

Francis is scheduled on June 1 to visit Szeklerland -- known as Szekelyfold in Hungarian and Tinutul Secuiesc in Romanian -- near the Carpathian Mountains.

The area is home to some 600,000 ethnic Hungarians, and his visit has been welcomed by many residents as an acknowledgement of their separate identity.

Francis said he hopes his visit will bolster ties between the Orthodox and Catholic communities in Romania.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and The Catholic News Service