The visit paid by Pope John Paul II to Romania politically contributed to Romania’s joining NATO and the European Union and, pastorally and ecumenically, to easing off the tense relations between the Greek Catholics and the Orthodox believers although not all their patrimony problems were solved, Patriarch Daniel on Friday told the conference devoted to the tenth anniversary of this event.
The Patriarch said that the visit paid by the Bishop of Rome to our country marked not only the life of the Romanian Orthodox Church (BOR) and of the Catholic Church in Romania, but also the relations between the Orthodox and Catholic believers at world level.
‘The first visit paid by a Pope of Rome to Romania was also the first visit paid by a Pope to a majority Orthodox country, thus opening the way to new meetings in other countries boasting an Orthodox tradition (Georgia, November 1999, Greece, May 2001, Ukraine, June 2001, Bulgaria, May 2002). This is why we can regard it as being a historic visit, during which they tried to get the two churches closer to each other and cooperate at a time when the world was at strife and the Christian churches were called upon to proclaim together the love of God for the world that materialized in Jesus Christ,’ said Patriarch Daniel.
The high clergyman explained the visit paid by Pope John Paul II to Romania by the fact that the Romanian Orthodox Church, which is Latin as ethnic origin but of an eastern Orthodox rite, is a church open to the international inter-Christian or ecumenical dialogue. He added that the special vocation of the Romanian Orthodox Church was to be a bridge connecting the East to the West.
The Patriarch added that the Pope did not come to Romania for the Romanian Orthodox believers alone, with whom the Roman Catholic Church generally has good relations, he also came because. in Romania, there is the best organized and most dynamic Catholic minority in a majority Orthodox country. Thus, the Pope’s visit was not only an ecumenical one, it was also one with a pastoral significance for the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic bishops, priests and believers in Romania, who were particularly happy with the presence of the Bishop of Rome in Romania.
On the tenth anniversary of the Pope’s visit to Romania the BOR head evoked the personalty of the former Sovereign Pontiff.
‘His personality was a gift not only for the Roman Catholic Church but also for the present-day world in general, which is more and more secular and confused spiritually and morally. Pope John Paul II was an apostle of peace and unity, who was appreciated at world level, a missionary of the freedom in Christ, of the freedom that is more powerful than any right or left-wing totalitarian regime,’ said Patriarch Daniel.
He reiterated the fact that John Paul II, the first Pope of a Slavic origin in history, in his speeches permanently emphasized the importance of the spirituality as a central dimension of the human life, a conviction that did not only come from his theological and philosophical studies, but also, especially, from the history of his private life, from the dramatic trials of his life both during the war and at the time of the totalitarian communism.
‘The visit paid by Pope John Paul II to Romania as a guest of Patriarch Teoctist, another supporter of the Christian faith during the communist age, and the positive reception of this visit the world over made the Pope be considered a friend of Romania’s and the ecumenical dimension of the visit, during which the Pope of Rome and Romania’s Patriarch prayed together for the Christian unity, was appreciated as a token of hope and joy in a tense world, which was often confused in its orientation,’ concluded Patriarch Daniel.