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Kamen Vichev (1893-1952), Pavel Djidjov (1919-1952) und Yosafat Shishkov (1884-1952)
BASED ON BULGARIAN NEWS AGENCY BTA
Pope John Paul II Says He Wishes to Pay Tribute to All Who Suffered for Their Faith During the Communist Regime
Plovdiv, May 26 (BTA) - The success of our earthly
pilgrimage depends on whether we respond to God's love, the Pope
said, serving mass in Plovdiv on Sunday. He added that the
three priests beatified by him were fully aware of this truth.
Together with a little more than 10.000 christians from Bulgaria, and groups from the neighbouring countries,
Poland, Italy and even France the Pope celebrated the Holy Mass mainly in Bulgarian.
The Pope said that beatifying the three Bulgarian Catholic
priests, he also wishes to pay tribute to all martyrs of the
Eastern Orthodox faith during the communist regime. Their strong
faith in Christ has brought together the two communities of the
Christian Church in Bulgaria, the Holy Father said.
The Pope called on the Bulgarian Church to seriously
consider the possibility of opening of a Catholic seminary in
Bulgaria to train young priests.
At the beginning of the Mass the Pope greeted (Bulgarian Orthodox) Metropolitan
ARSENIY of Plovdiv who attended the Holy Mass. He said his
presence was a sign of hope that we may some day rejoice over
The Pope also addressed those professing the Islamic
religion who also "worship, though in a different way, the only
The Pope also greeted the representatives of the state
authorities, thanking them for their contribution and said that
without this contribution his journey to Bulgaria would have
Turning to the Mother of God icon placed at the altar, Pope
John Paul II asked the Holy Virgin to watch over the Bulgarian
S U M M A R Y
Press reports described as "cool" the meeting between the
Pope and Patriarch Maksim. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church did not
join the invitation to the Pope to visit. However, the Holy
Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church said it would welcome the
Pope with all due respect. Surprisingly, Patriarch Maksim
attended the official welcoming ceremony at St. Alexander
Nevski central square and had a 45-minute eye-to-eye meeting
with the guest. Later President Georgi Purvanov described this
as a clear signal that the Holy Synod is ready for an active
The Pope was welcomed cordially by the monks at the Rila
monastery. The monastery's hegumen, Bishop John stressed in his
address to the Pope that the split between the Orthodox and the
Catholic churches has lasted ten centuries. "But the walls
between them do not reach the skies and are temporary - men
erected them and men will pull them down," said he.
The dialogue between the two churches is very important for
Europe's future integration, said Cardinal Walter Casper,
Chairman of the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians.
In his words, the relations between the Orthodox and the
Catholic churches are intensive and are being stepped up.
Bulgaria's chances for EU and NATO membership were also
commented in the light of the Papal visit. NATO Parliamentary
Assembly President Rafael Estrella was the first to make such
connection. Upon his arrival in Sofia he said that the NATO-PA
session in Sofia and Pope John Paul II's visit are positive
initiatives connected with overcoming the 50-year period of
confrontation during the Cold War.
For his part, Pope John Paul II called Bulgaria a bridge
between the East and West and a spiritual crossroad, and wished
that the efforts for social renovation find deserved reception
and support from the European Community.