The April 27 canonisation of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII was a special day for believers around the world and especially for Bulgarians because both popes had a strong connection with Bulgarian, said President Rossen Plevneliev, who attended the ceremony at the Vatican.
“Today is a celebration of human spirituality and faith,” Plevneliev told reporters in Rome. “Let us always remember that one of them (Pope John XXIII) is called by many believers, ‘the Bulgarian Pope’.”
Plevneliev said that Pope John XXIII had nearly 10 years of ministry in Bulgaria, when he was Papal Nuncio.
“He loved Bulgaria and let us never forget his words that wherever there is a window where he is, there will always be a candle for Bulgaria,” Plevneliev said.
The future Pope John XXII was appointed apostolic envoy to Bulgaria by Pope Pius XI in 1925.
The future Pope, whose motto was “obedience and peace”, ministered to Roman Catholic communities in Bulgaria while also promoting an attitude of respect for other Christian communities.
He was acti ve in charitable work after the 1928 earthquake in Bulgaria and played a role in preventing the deportation of Bulgarian Jews to the Holocaust death camps under the Nazi regime in Germany, in which six million Jews were murdered.
Plevneliev urged everyone to remember the case of Pope John Paul II, who made a significant contribution to clearing the name of Bulgaria in connection with the allegations that Bulgaria had a role in the attempt to assassinate him, and had given the St Vincent and Anastasius church in Rome to the Bulgarian community to carry out Orthodox Christian worship.
“Pope John Paul II is a symbol of correct attitude to communism not only as such, but to all distortions in world history, whether it comes to fascism to communism,” Plevneliev said.
Bulgaria’s President said that Pope John Paul II was “a symbol for all of us” because he represented first-person the story of communism, and added that history tends to repeat itself, “if we are not intelligent enough to pass on to future generations”.
For Plevneliev, it was very symbolic that such a person, who was well-acquainted with communism and fascism “and all we saw in the 20th century”, was canonised as a saint.
Hopefully, the coming generations would know the truth and the history and would preserve the work of John Paul II and John XXIII, Plevneliev said.
During his visit to the Vatican, Plevneliev met with European Council President Herman van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Barroso, Hungarian president János Áder, Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski and Polish prime minister Donald Tusk, a media statement by the Bulgarian President’s press office said.
Also representing Bulgaria were ambassador in Rome Marin Raykov and Professor Kiril Topalov.