mcloudyn.png
Wednesday September 23rd, 2020 9:52PM

Pope in Bulgaria tells refugees they bear cross of humanity

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Pope Francis met Monday with refugees in Bulgaria's showcase refugee center and told them they are bearing the "cross of humanity," after he urged the migrant-skeptic government to not close its eyes to their suffering.

Children from Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere sang for Francis and gave him drawings during a visit to the Vrazhdebna center, located in a school refurbished with EU funds on the outskirts of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.

Francis thanked the children for their joy and hope, and told them that he knows well the pain of leaving behind one's country. He compared their suffering to the cross Christ bore.

"Today, the world of migrants and refugees is a kind of cross, the cross of humanity," Francis said. "It's a cross that many people suffer."

Bulgaria's center-right government has been criticized by human rights groups and the European Council for its treatment of asylum-seekers, particularly unaccompanied minors. The government, which includes three nationalist, anti-migrant parties, has called for the EU to close its borders to migrants and has sealed off its own border with Turkey with a barbed-wire fence.

Francis is on the second-day of a three-day visit to the Balkans. Upon his arrival Sunday, he urged Bulgarians to not be indifferent to the plight of migrants and refugees, saying many are fleeing war, conflict and abject poverty in search of a better life. He noted that Bulgaria itself was losing thousands of its own citizens who were seeking better opportunities elsewhere in the European Union. Bulgaria is the poorest of the EU's 28 nations, saddled by widespread corruption.

"I respectfully suggest that you not close your eyes, your hearts or your hands — in accordance with your best tradition — to those who knock at your door," he told government officials at the presidential palace in Sofia.

The Argentine pope has made the plight of migrants and refugees a hallmark of his papacy, urging governments to build bridges, not walls, and to do what they can to welcome and integrate refugees. His visit falls just three weeks before the European Parliament elections across the EU in which nationalist, anti-migrant parties are expected to make a solid showing

Later Monday, Francis traveled to the Catholic stronghold of Rakovsky for a First Communion Mass and meeting with the local community.

Nearly 250 jittery children in white robes filled the pews of the Sacred Heart church, the girls wearing crowns of white roses.

In his homily, Francis told them that receiving their First Communion was a celebration of communion with the whole church, and he urged them to share that joy with others. Speaking simply, Francis engaged in a Q&A session with the kids, explaining to them the basics of the sacrament and living a Christian life in Italian that was then translated into Bulgarian.

Francis usually doesn't administer Communion during Mass, but did so on Monday for the children. He has implied that he prefers to let others distribute the hosts because he doesn't want people to use him for opportunistic reasons.

Citing local organizers, the Vatican said some 10,000 people were on hand outside the yellow and white church to greet Francis, who arrived into town in his open-sided popemobile.

Francis wraps up the day with a peace event back in Sofia. On Tuesday, he travels to neighboring North Macedonia for the first-ever papal visit to the country.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP World News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Gandhis hope to keep seats in 5th phase of India's elections
Polling has opened for the fifth phase of India's marathon elections including in two constituencies in the vote-rich state of Uttar Pradesh where opposition Congress party president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi hope to retain their seats
3:40AM ( 9 minutes ago )
China says trade envoys preparing to go to Washington
Chinese spokesman says team 'preparing to travel to the United States,' suggesting trade talks might go ahead despite Trump's latest tariff threat
3:37AM ( 13 minutes ago )
French telecom giant Orange on trial over staff suicides
French telecom giant Orange and seven former or current managers are going on trial over a wave of employee suicides a decade ago
3:33AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Players seeking change for women's soccer in Latin America
The rise of women's soccer has put a focus on the disparities experienced by players globally
2:13AM ( 1 hour ago )
North Korea tests new missile _ and Trump's resolve
North Korea's test of what appears to be short-range ballistic missile wasn't a direct threat to the United States, but experts warn it could be an omen of bigger problems on the horizon
1:48AM ( 2 hours ago )
Trump threatens to hike tariffs on $200B of Chinese imports
President Donald Trump has turned up the pressure on China ahead of trade talks this week by threatening to hike tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods
1:43AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Trump now says Mueller should not testify before Congress
Trump says special counsel Robert Mueller shouldn't testify before Congress
10:29PM ( 5 hours ago )
Another body found at Illinois factory; death toll reaches 3
Waukegan Fire Marshal Steve Lenzi says search and recovery personnel have found the body of another worker in the rubble of a northern Illinois silicone plant that exploded and burst into flames
10:18PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Russia says at least 40 dead on burning jet
Russian officials are giving out conflicting numbers on a fiery airliner accident at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, but they indicate at least 40 people died
10:04PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Gandhis hope to keep seats in 5th phase of India's elections
Polling has opened for the fifth phase of India's marathon elections including in two constituencies in the vote-rich state of Uttar Pradesh where opposition Congress party president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi hope to retain their seats
3:40AM ( 9 minutes ago )
China says trade envoys preparing to go to Washington
Chinese spokesman says team 'preparing to travel to the United States,' suggesting trade talks might go ahead despite Trump's latest tariff threat
3:37AM ( 13 minutes ago )
French telecom giant Orange on trial over staff suicides
French telecom giant Orange and seven former or current managers are going on trial over a wave of employee suicides a decade ago
3:33AM ( 16 minutes ago )
US dispatched aircraft carrier to send message to Iran
AP source: A US defense official says military deployments to Middle East in response to indications that Iran and its proxy forces were preparing to possibly attack US forces
3:32AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Trump changes position on Mueller testimony
President Donald Trump's turnabout on whether the special counsel should appear before Congress has sparked criticism from Democratic lawmakers.
3:23AM ( 26 minutes ago )