Wednesday, 8 May 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters: Yesterday evening I returned from my Apostolic Journey to Bulgaria and North Macedonia. I renew my heartfelt gratitude to the civil Authorities of both countries and to the respective Christian communities for their generous welcome. In Bulgaria, guided by the example of Saint John XXIII, I invited everyone to walk in the path of fraternity. It was a joy to meet Patriarch Neofit and the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and I was also able to spend time in prayer before the throne of Saints Cyril and Methodius, two brothers who knew how to use their culture with creativity in proclaiming the Gospel. Today too we need such passionate missionary disciples. Finally, with representatives of different religions, we asked God for the gift of peace, while children carried burning torches: symbols of faith and hope. In North Macedonia, the spiritual presence of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta accompanied me. We can see in this small yet strong woman an image of the Church in that land: a small community that becomes a welcoming home where many can find rest. After Holy Mass, I met with priests and consecrated persons, as well as youth from different Christian denominations and other religions, encouraging them to listen to the Lord’s voice. As I thank God for allowing me to visit these two countries, let us entrust their people to the loving providence of Almighty God.