Speech by President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, on the occasion of receiving His Holiness Pope Francis
13:15 | 31 May 2019
Ladies and gentlemen,
In my capacity as President of Romania and on behalf of all Romanians, it is a great joy for me to welcome Your Holiness in Bucharest, at the Cotroceni Palace, and to wish you «Welcome to Romania!».
You will spend several days in the country of Saint Apostle Andrew, the patron of Romania, and I am convinced, Holy Father, that in Bucharest, in Iasi, Sumuleu Ciuc and in Blaj you will be very warmly welcomed.
You will visit the country that Saint John Paul II so beautifully named «the Garden of the Holy Virgin».
We will be happy to be the hosts of the Bishop of Rome, city of the origin of our language and faith.
Your Apostolic visit takes place, for the Catholics, between the Ascension and Whitsuntide, whereas for the Orthodox it anticipates the great celebration of the Ascension.
Concluding his visit to Romania in May 1999, Saint John Paul II sent us a powerful message of confidence in the future of our country, for its European vocation, for the mission of our civilization as a bridge between East and West. Today, I can confess to you that the inspiration received then turned into reality, and Romania found its place again in the family of the united Europe. Less than one week ago, this European destiny was firmly reconfirmed by our citizens, both those living in Romania and the ones living abroad.
The Pontifical diplomacy continues to represent a contributor to peace and balance in addressing the issues of the global agenda. Facing the contemporary challenges, the Romanian citizens regard Your Apostolic Visit as an encouragement towards the common good, an enhanced contribution for a society of righteousness and a world of communion among all people.
This semester, Romania exercises its first mandate as Presidency of the Council of the European Union. As you highlighted on various occasions, we have to take care of our home – Europe.
I had the privilege to host the European leaders in Sibiu, on the 9th of May, Europe’s Day, for an important moment of reflection upon the future of Europe. I want to share with you my satisfaction about the Political Declaration adopted by the Sibiu Summit, by which the European nations and their leaders strongly restated their determination to work together for a continent reunited in peace and democracy, for one Europe for all, led by its values and liberties.
The Romanian citizens tragically experienced totalitarian regimes, the suppression of liberty and the brutal attack upon the values of Christianity. Your Apostolic Visit takes place one year after the celebration of the Centenary of the Great Union and 30 years after the recuperation, through sacrifice, of our fundamental rights, including the freedom of expression and conscience.
Today, Romanians worship God with no fear or being restrained, in the Romanian language and in the languages of all the ethnic minorities.
The beatification of the martyr bishops belonging to the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church is also a tribute paid to the memory of all those who, in the Communist period, sacrificed themselves for liberty and God.
Your Apostolic visit has a major significance for the ties between Romania and the Holy See, as it anticipates the anniversary in 2020 of 100 years since the establishment of our bilateral diplomatic relations. The political and diplomatic relations are very good, based upon constant dialogue. We met, Your Holiness, in the very day of the 25th anniversary of the resuming of our diplomatic relations, on the 15th of May 2015, and I had then the honor of inviting you to visit our country.
In a world confronted with complex phenomena, Europe needs today, more than ever, models of peaceful togetherness, models for the dialogue between majorities and minorities and intercultural dialogue, in order to provide the milestones for the enhancement of tolerance and mutual respect.
Romania is an example of good practices, through the mechanisms we secured for the respect of the civil rights of the citizens belonging to the 20 ethnic minorities who live in Romania.
The mission that you carry worldwide, for a world of generosity, social solidarity and understanding between civilizations, is acknowledged and appreciated in our country.
In the Latin or Oriental catholic churches, in the orthodox churches, in the places of worship of the other Christian faiths or the other legally recognized religious denominations, the values that you promote, Your Holiness, are cherished. This is one of the fundamentals of the good relationship between the various religions in our country.
In Romania, a country of mainly orthodox faith, the commitment of the State for an effective religious freedom lead to a dialogue between denominations based on mutual respect. This climate mirrors in the hospitality that the Catholic Church offers to our diaspora in Europe, for which I want to thank you!
Your messages call for empathy and action on the issues of poverty, violence, migration, social fragility, damaging the environment or consumerism. The Romanian society echoes your calls for solidarity and responsibility. We step with confidence, together with Your Holiness, onto this bridge, to build a world of peace and human fulfillment, a «Garden of Holy Virgin» for all; «Let us walk forward together» towards it!”