Pope Francis on Monday morning visited the "Vrazhdebna" Refugee Centre on the outskirts of Sofia on this the second day of his Apostolic journey to Bulgaria.
On his arrival, the Pope was welcomed by the Director of the Centre and by the Director of Caritas.
He then went to the refectory where about 50 people, including parents and children, were gathered.
The children who were present in the Centre come from Syria and Iraq. After a brief greeting from a volunteer, a song performed by the children and the gift of the children's drawings to the Pope, the Holy Father greeted the families present and addressed a few brief words to them.
Following the visit to the Refugee Centre, the ad interim director of the Vatican Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti said the centre visit took place in a joyful atmosphere where the children were the real protagonists. Gisotti added, that the Pope was very pleased with the drawings he received.
Speaking about the Pope’s greeting to the children and parents at the centre, the ad interim directior said Pope Francis stressed that children always help us to better understand what is happening. They have escaped war and misery in their own homeland, but they come to other parts of the world with a sense of hope.
Gisotti also noted that the Pope said something very profound: "Today the world of migrants and refugees is a like a part of a cross, a cross of humanity, and the cross is a lot of people who suffer".
Asked about the welcome Pope Francis received from the refugees, the press office director said that it had been very warm. “The good thing is that we are talking about people of different nationalities, even of different faiths, and yet we have seen these images to which you never get used, touching images of the Pope embracing the men, women, children of these families .”
After giving his blessing to those at the Centre, the Pope travelled by car to Sofia International Airport. Later Pope Francis will celebrate Mass with First Communions at the Sacred Heart Church in Rakovsky.