BUCHAREST – Thousands of Romanian Orthodox and Catholics welcomed Pope Francis on his arrival in Romania on Friday.
The pontiff was received by the president of Romania Klaus Iohannis at the airport in the capital Bucharest, where he landed from Rome to begin his three-day visit.
He traveled from there with his retinue by road to Cotroceni Palace, the president’s official residence.
Wellwishers, pilgrims and tourists passing through Bucharest cheered the pope on his journey through the streets of the capital.
“We want to welcome you and thank you for coming to visit us,” Nicu Aslan, a retired Orthodox priest who was waiting for Francisco in the city center, told EFE.
The emblematic Victoriei Street (Victory Street) was lined with supporters hoping to get a glimpse of the holy leader.
One of them was Sister Luz, a Spanish nun who works helping “the poorest of the poor” in the Romanian capital.
“I am very happy,” she said about the visit.
“It is a way of uniting Catholics and Orthodox in this country because we are all Christians and it is a way for people to walk together,” she added.
Sister Luz said she will follow the official acts of the Pope from a giant screen in the city center.
After a reception with the Romanian president in Cotroceni, the Pope will have a meeting with senior members of the Romanian Orthodox Church and visit the new Orthodox Cathedral.
He will later officiate a mass at the Catholic Cathedral of San Jose.
His trip will continue on Saturday at the sanctuary of Sumuleu Ciuc, in the center of the country, and later to the northeastern city of Iasi.
The last stop will be the city of Blaj, seat of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church, where he will lead a mass on Sunday and will meet with members of the Roma community.
The Pope made headlines on Wednesday during his audience in St Peter’s Square in Vatican City by greeting members of a soccer team and motorbike club.
He met members of a soccer team, signed shirts and even briefly played with a football.
Francis also greeted members of a bike club, who presented him with a jacket with his name on it.