- Jul 14, 2020
For Orthodox Christians, this is normally a time of reflection and mourning followed by joyful release, of centuries-old ceremonies steeped in symbolism and tradition. But this year, Easter — by far the most significant religious holiday for the world’s roughly 300 million Orthodox — has essentially been cancelled.
Thousands of Orthodox Christian worshippers plunged into the icy waters of rivers and lakes across Bulgaria on Monday to retrieve crucifixes tossed by priests in Epiphany ceremonies commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ.
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.