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Pope in Romania: President Iohannis, “Europe needs models of peaceful coexistence”

(Foto Vatican Media/SIR)

“Welcome to Romania!”. This is how the President of Romania, Klaus Werner Iohannis, greeted Pope Francis, during the meeting with Authorities, Civil Society and the Diplomatic Corps at the presidential palace in Bucharest. “Holy Father, You will spend a few days in the land of St. Andrew the Apostle, Protector of Romania, and I am sure You will receive a very warm welcome in Bucharest, Iasi, Şumuleu Ciuc and Blaj”, the president said: “You will know the land that Pope John Paul II so beautifully called ‘Garden of the Mother of God’. For us, it will also be a pleasure to welcome the Bishop of Rome, the place where our language and faith are rooted”.
“At the end of his visit to Romania, on 9 May 1999, Pope John Paul II left us a strong message of confidence in the future of our country, in its European destiny, in the role of our civilization as a bridge between the East and the West”, President Iohannis told Pope Francis, referring to his predecessor: “Today I can tell You that the message received back then has borne fruit and Romania has rediscovered its destiny in the family of united Europe”. “Less than a week ago, this European destiny has been strongly reaffirmed by Romanians in the country and abroad”, the Head of State stressed, pointing out that “the Papal diplomacy continues to be a force for peace and stability in addressing issues on the global agenda. Your Holiness, in the face of contemporary challenges, the citizens of Romania see Your visit as a new encouragement to serve the common good and contribute to a just society and to a world of love among people”. “In this very period, for the first time, our country, Romania, is holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union”, Iohannis said, citing the meeting of EU leaders in Sibiu, last 9 May, during which the latter “clearly reiterated their will to work together for a Europe united in peace and democracy, a single Europe, guided by its values and its freedoms”. Then he referred to the history of Romania and the “tragic experience of totalitarianism, the lack of freedom, the forced deprivation of Christian values” and the beatification “of the martyred bishops of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church united with Rome”, which he called “a great tribute to all those who have sacrificed their lives during the communist period for freedom and for faith”. “In a world marked by complex phenomena, today perhaps more than ever, Europe needs models of peaceful coexistence, models of dialogue between majorities and minorities, dialogue between cultures, that offer points of reference for the consolidation of tolerance and mutual respect”, the president said, adding that “Romania is an example of ‘good practices’, for the way it has ensured and ensures respect for the rights of people belonging to the 20 historic national minorities in its territory. In Romania, a country with an orthodox majority, the State’s commitment to guaranteeing religious freedom has led to an interfaith dialogue characterised by profound mutual respect. This climate also reflects the hospitality that the Catholic Church offers to our diaspora in Europe, for which I would very much like to thank You!”.

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