By Fr. Adrian Danca and Linda Bordoni
One of the main themes during Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Romania – whose population is primarily Eastern Orthodox – was the importance of unity among Christians.
In his address to the leaders of the 16-million strong Orthodox community in Romania on the first day of his visit, Pope Francis expressed his hope that the Catholic and Romanian Orthodox churches will work more closely together in the future, and he prayed that God may help the churches experience "unprecedented ways of sharing and of mission."
Speaking to Vatican Radio & News, Archdeacon Ionut Mavrichi, the Vice-Director of the Press Office for the Orthodox Patriarchate of Bucharest said Romania can be seen as a model for ecumenical relations.
Archdeacon Mavrichi describes the papal visit as an important event important for all Romania and for both the Orthodox and the Catholic communities that make up the nation.
Of course, he said, “The Orthodox also share the joy of the Catholics that receive the Pope.”
The Pope’s presence in the nation, he continued, is a sign of unity, a sign of hope, a sign of shared meaning and a shared testimony to Europe that Christianity can represent the foundation of unity in a disintegrating Europe.
Symbols and messages of unity
Archdeacon Mavrichi explained that the National Cathedral of Bucharest is a symbol of unity; he said and the messages of the two highest representatives of the Orthodox Church in Romania are messages of unity, of peace, of love: an invitation to embrace each other respecting the differences but living in unity.
He said they are an appeal to live our lives according to “the message of hope for unity that Christ asked us for”.
The Archdeacon explained that “the commandment for unity is a commandment for all of us”.
Even although there are differences, he said, it doesn’t mean we cannot understand each other and walk together the path of unity.
Romania, model of unity
Romania, he said, can actually be taken as an example of good practices for the model of living together, as it is home for many different faith communites who cohabitate in the country without tensions.
“Let us not forget we are all Romanians and we are brought together by our faith in Jesus Christ,” he said.