“We hope to find in all of us an ample echo of the visit’s motto, ‘Let Us Walk Together,’ for our unity,” said Monsignor Ioan Robu, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Latin Archdiocese of Bucharest, given Pope Francis’ imminent visit to Rumania — his 30th international trip, which will take place from May 31 to June 2, 2019.
The Holy Father will find “a socially and economically more divided Rumania,” explained Monsignor Robu, who already led the Archdioceses of Bucharest when Pope Wojtyla traveled there 20 years ago.
The Argentine Pontiff is the second Pope to visit Rumania, following John Paul II’s footsteps in 1999. From the religious point of view, “Rumania has not changed in these 20 years,” revealed the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Latin Archdiocese of Bucharest, in an interview with “Vatican News.”
Unity between Catholics and Orthodox
The country has some 20 million inhabitants: only 7.3% are Catholics, as opposed to 86% of Orthodox. The Rumanian Orthodox Church has 20 million followers, between Rumania, Moldavia and the diaspora. It is the second of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, just behind the Russian Orthodox Church.
“Relations between Catholics and Orthodox in daily life are very good,” said the Metropolitan Archbishop, adding that “in my Archdiocese, about half the families are mixed: we live and work together’ we respect one another without problems. I’m convinced that that cry “Unity!, Unity! of Pope John Paul II will never be forgotten by us, Catholics and Orthodox, calling us all to Jesus’ Word, that we may all be one.”
Rumania’s Great Difficulty
One of the gravest problems the Rumanian population is experiencing is emigration. This is “the great difficulty of Rumania and of the Church today,” explained Archbishop Robu, because there are already millions of Rumanians who work abroad, in Italy, Spain and in the whole of Europe.
Bucharest’s Catholic Prelate pointed out that “this brings much suffering to our families because there are parents that have left their children at home who then are without a mother and a father. There “are cases in which both parents are missing; many cases in which one of them is abroad for a long time. The families, young people leave for a better salary, for a higher level of living than Rumania can offer,” he added.