BUCHAREST – Pope Francis called on Romanians on Saturday to strive to transform past and present hard feelings into “new opportunities for fellowship” during a Mass held at an important site in Catholicism for the eastern European country.
On his second day of a trip to Romania, Francis communicated a message of union between the different social and religious identities of the country, which has an Orthodox majority.
He visited the Marian shrine in Sumuleu-Ciuc in the region of Transylvania, where the most Romanian Catholics are concentrated.
In an esplanade near the sanctuary, the pontiff reminded the faithful in his homily that the pilgrimage to the temple represented “a people whose wealth is seen its myriad faces, cultures, languages and tradition,” as cited by Vatican News.
For that reason he asked that: “we not let ourselves be robbed of our fraternal love by those voices and hurts that provoke division and fragmentation.”
“Complicated and sorrow-filled situations from the past must not be forgotten or denied, yet neither must they be an obstacle or an excuse standing in the way of our desire to live together as brothers and sisters,” he said.
Francisco said that “to go on pilgrimage is to feel called and compelled to journey together, asking the Lord for the grace to change past and present resentments and mistrust into new opportunities for fellowship.”
As well as “discover and communicate the “mystique” of living together, and not being afraid to mingle, to embrace and to support one another.”
“It is to commit ourselves to ensuring that the stragglers of yesterday can become the protagonists of tomorrow, and that today’s protagonists do not become tomorrow’s stragglers,” the pope continued.
“That is why we are here today, to say together: Mother teach us to weave the future,” he said in Romania, a country whose Catholic minority has suffered from persecution from the communist regime and tensions with the majority Orthodox Church.
Romania’s Prime Minister Viorica Dancila and Hungary’s President Janos Ader attended the Mass, given the large presence of members of the Hungarian ethnic minority of Transylvania, who were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until its disintegration after World War I.
The Marian shrine of Sumuleu-Ciuc at the foot of the Carpathians is located at a Franciscan monastery. It is a historic pilgrimage destination for Romania’s ethnic Hungarian Catholic minority and others.
Francis arrived to the site in the pope-mobile, greeting the thousands of faithful who were waiting for him after a long trip from Bucharest hindered by adverse weather conditions preventing the use of a helicopter.
It was the first time a pope visited Transylvania as John Paul II did not in the end embark on his trip to Romania in 1999.