I encourage you to carry forward your “efforts to consolidate the structures and institutions needed to respond to the legitimate aspirations of the citizenry and to encourage the nation’s people to realize its full potential and native genius”. This is the first “mission” entrusted by Pope Francis to the Romanian people, in the first speech of his 30th apostolic trip. Having greeted the president of the Republic and the authorities – the addressees of his first public speech -, Pope Francis offered a greeting to Patriarch Daniel – who was among the attendees -, to the “Metropolitans and Bishops of the Holy Synod, and to all the faithful of the Romanian Orthodox Church” as well as to the Bishops and priests, men and women religious, and all the members of the Catholic Church, “whom I have come to confirm in faith and to encourage on their journey of life and Christian witness”, the Pope said. “I am happy to find myself” in “your ţara frumoasă (beautiful land), twenty years after the visit of Saint John Paul II” and in “this semester when Romania, for the first time since its entrance into the European Union, holds the presidency of the Council” of the EU, Pope Francis began. Indeed, he said, “this is a fitting time to think back on the thirty years that have passed since Romania was liberated from a regime that oppressed civil and religious liberty, isolated the nation from other European countries, and led to the stagnation of its economy and the exhaustion of its creative powers”. “In these years – the Pope continued -, 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”, the Holy Father remarked, citing as positive examples “the determination to advance in various areas of civil, social, cultural, and scientific life”, which “has released much energy and generated many projects; it has unleashed great creative forces that had previously been pent up, and has encouraged a number of new initiatives that have guided the country into the twenty-first century”.