“To promote unity inside the family, in the Church and in society. The Pope’s visit will foster renewed thrust for coexistence.” It’s the expectation expressed by Fr Wilhelm Danc, dean of the Faculty of Roman Catholic Theology at the University of Bucharest, ahead of the Pope’s apostolic journey to Romania from May 31stto June 2 to visit the cities of Bucharest, Iaşi and Blaj and the Marian Shrine of Șumuleu Ciuc.
What Country will the Pope find?
A divided Country, especially from the political angle, which needs consolation and encouragement in its faithfulness to Christian values. It’s a thrust for the ecumenical movement, that is going through a frosty season. I hope the Pope’s visit will bring a breath of fresh air and foster renewed thrust to live and pray together.
Francis will visit to Romania “to encourage unity.”
There is need for unity also inside the Church, not only in society. We have been challenged by European integration, which continues being perceived as an important process for Romania’s development.
But we failed to realize that all this has caused social inequalities, such as the ones between those employed and those who strive to make ends meet. This is true also in the educational and religious spheres.
The logo of the visit depicts the people of God walking under the protection of the Holy Virgin. Why?
The Holy Virgin is venerated by Orthodox Christians and by Catholics, with different shrines. She is a loved figure in the Country.
Approximately 20% of the Romanian population have emigrated since the fall of the Berlin Wall. What have been the consequences for the Church?
Many have found different ways to live out their Christianity abroad, loosing their roots. Preserving one’s identity is a problem for the Church.
Moving abroad entails the risk of losing one’s roots.
Also in families, many grandparents were left alone, without their sons and grandchildren. They end their life in loneliness. It’s a new form of social poverty that needs to be addressed.
What is the situation of Catholics in Romania?
The number of adult Catholics has decreased.
We have communities with children and old people, adults have relocated abroad or to large urban centres in the Country.
Identifying elements of unity and cohesion is a challenge.
The Pope will visit the Marian Shrine of Șumuleu Ciuc.
It’s a symbolical site that expresses continuity with Saint John Paul II, who travelled to Romania to visit the “Garden of the Virgin Mary.” The Shrine was originally Hungarian, but Romania is a mixture of minorities. It’s a small Europe, unity in diversity of language and faith.