Orthodox Patriarch Daniel warmly receives the pope, despite many thorny issues

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Since the majority of Romanians are Orthodox. in Bucharest, the pope visited the headquarters of the Orthodox Patriarchate.

He privately met with Patriarch Daniel, and then with the bishops of the patriarch's 'Permanent Synod.'

They spoke under a plaque that remembered John Paul II's visit, Pope Francis' predecessor. Patriarch Teoctist Daniel recalled that they both had lived under Communist rule.

The pope also spoke about that visit. He stressed that when the Communist regime persecuted and executed the Christians, it did not distinguish whether they were Catholic or Orthodox. It is the blood of that martyrdom which joins the two confessions.

“That which they suffered, to the point of sacrificing of their lives, is too precious an inheritance to be disregarded or tarnished. It is a shared inheritance that calls us to remain close to our brothers and sisters who share it.”

The pope also proposed to walk symbolically together as Christians, facing the challenges and threats of a 'culture of fear' that leads to attitudes of closure and hatred.

“We need to help one another, to not give in to the seductions of a 'culture of hate' and individualism that - perhaps no longer ideological as in the time of the atheist persecution - is nonetheless more persuasive and no less materialist. Often it takes on the appearance of a path to development that appears immediate and decisive, but in reality is indifferent and superficial.”

The patriarch appreciatively applauded the pope's words. 

As a reminder of the meeting, Pope Francis gave him a copy of “Codex Pauli.” It is a compilation of St. Paul's manuscripts, that were prepared by the Vatican during the year of St. Paul. 

The patriarch handed him the commemorative medal for the inauguration of the cathedral. It is a reproduction of the Orthodox cathedral for his personal desk, and a book with the best photos of John Paul II's trip to Romania.

Afterward, the patriarch warmly showed him the rooms of the patriarchy.

The relations between both confessions are respectful, but there are still issues that divide them. One is the non-return of parishes that the Communist government expropriated and then sold or delivered to the Orthodox Church.

They are wounds that hopefully will start to heal after the conciliatory tone of this visit.

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