Were also present at the meeting cardinals and bishops of
the Vatican who were accompanying Pope Francis during his visit.
In his address, the Patriarch said, “On behalf of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria, we salute you and your following: Welcome! Welcome to the land that bears the legacy of Saints Cyril and Methodius, equal to the apostles, the legacy of the holy prince Boris-Michael the Baptist [Boris I of Bulgaria, who took the initiative of the baptism of the Bulgarian people, TN], of St. Clement of Ohrid, and of many other saints of God. Thanks to their work of illumination, in the 9th and 10th centuries, Christianity spread to Europe and beyond its borders “.
The Patriarch added that “the head and helmsman of the ship of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In this tumultuous time, our imperative duty is to keep His ship safe from all breaches, in order to save the greatest number of human souls. We wish to preserve the Church, that is glorious, not having a spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:27), and we make every effort not to compromise as far as faith is concerned. We rejoice each time we learn that other spiritual leaders share similar beliefs”.
For his part, Pope Francis declared, “In the joy of the
risen Lord, I send you the Easter greeting on this Sunday, which in the
Christian East is called ‘the Sunday of Saint Thomas’. We contemplate the
Apostle who put his hand in the Lord’s side and, touching His wounds, confessed:
“My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28). The wounds, which throughout
history have opened for us Christians, are painful signs of tearing inflicted
on the Body of Christ, the Church. Even today, we can touch their consequences.
But perhaps, if together we put our hands in these wounds and confess that
Jesus is risen, and if we proclaim Him as our Lord and our God, if by
recognizing our deficiencies we immerse ourselves in His wounds of love, we can
rediscover the joy of forgiveness, and have a foretaste of the day when, with
the help of God, we will be able to celebrate the paschal mystery on the same
“I want to thank you again for receiving me, and I assure you that I will keep the memory of this fraternal meeting in my heart. Christ is risen!” concluded Pope Francis.
At the meeting were present Metropolitan Ignatius of Pleven,
Gabriel of Lovech, Nicholas of Plovdiv, Anthony of Western and Central Europe,
John of Varna and Veliki Preslav, Seraphim of Nevrokop, Nahum of Ruse, Cyprian
of Stara Zagora, Gregory of Vratsa,
Gerasim of Melnik (Principal Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Church of
Bulgaria), as well as His Majesty Tsar Simeon II.
The meeting ended with the exchange of Easter greetings.
After the reception at the Synod Palace, Pope Francis visited St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia and bowed to its north altar, dedicated to Sts Cyril and Methodius.
You can watch here below a video with excerpts of the visit.
Source in Bulgarian