Pope arrives in North Macedonia: accepting diverse ethnicities leads to peace and prosperity
Pope Francis left Sofia, Bulgaria, after an official farewell by the country's prime minister.
He then arrived at Skopje, the largest city in North Macedonia with more than 500,000 inhabitants. The President and Prime Minister of North Macedonia were waiting for Pope Francis on the ground, the first pope to step foot in this country.
Three girls in traditional clothes offered the pope a traditional bread, which he broke and offered to those around him.
Amidst cheers by the crowd, Pope Francis traveled to the Presidential Palace. He received an official welcoming ceremony full of music and flags.
There he met with civil authorities and members of the diplomatic corps. The meeting marks the 25 years of diplomatic relations between North Macedonia and the Holy See.
President of North Macedonia
“It is an honor and pleasure as the President of Macedonia to wish the warmest of welcomes to His Holiness Pope Francis, on behalf of the Macedonian people.”
Pope Francis delivered his first main speech in the country, mentioning the mixture of cultures, ethnicities and religions in North Macedonia.
“Every effort made to enable the diverse religious expressions and the different ethnic groups to find a common ground of understanding and respect for the dignity of every human person, and consequently the guarantee of fundamental freedoms, will surely prove fruitful. Indeed, those efforts will serve as the necessary seedbed for a future of peace and prosperity.”
He also mentioned the large number of migrants and refugees who have found a safe haven and new home within North Macedonia.
“With you, they found a secure haven. The ready solidarity offered to those in such great need – people who had left behind so many of their dear ones, to say nothing of their homes, their work and their homeland – does you honor.”
He concluded by paying homage to Mother Teresa, who was born in this city. Pope Francis asked the citizens to continue to follow her example to find the true mission God has for them.