- Dec 8, 2019
The pope and his bishops seem keenly aware of the current battle for the soul of Europe, which, in light of populist gains, risks creating a new ideological iron curtain.
From the very beginning, Francis has seen his pontificate as a revival and concrete application of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the ecumenical council summoned by “Good Pope John.”
Wrapping up a packed first day in Bulgaria, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the nation’s small Catholic population, telling them to get bogged down by past failures, but to allow God to beckon and surprise them, remembering this call is rooted in love.
For decades, to put “pope” and “Bulgaria” into the same sentence was to summon thoughts of tragedy and conspiracy in the wake of the 1981 assassination attempt against St. John Paul II, however, Pope Francis’s upcoming visit seems destined to set a different tone.
When Pope Francis visits Macedonia and Bulgaria next month, the trip might seem like a throwaway since it won’t generate the major news waves that his other international visits deliver, however, it could be a key moment in the Vatican’s engagement with the Orthodox community and with Eastern Europe.
Pope Francis will visit the Balkan nations of Bulgaria and North Macedonia May 5-7, encouraging the nations’ small Catholic communities, reaching out to the Orthodox and to Muslims and paying tribute to two popular saints.