Bulgarian President Roumen Radev said that he had held a “very interesting” discussion with Pope Francis on topical issues such as the migration problem, and trafficking in people, including children.
Radev was speaking after being received in audience on May 26 at the Vatican by the head of the Roman Catholic Church, a traditional annual meeting for Bulgarian heads of delegations visiting Rome at the time that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church celebrates the feast day of Saints Cyril and Methodius.
The Pope told Radev that the inclusion of young people in Christian values was the way to protect them from temptation.
The Bulgarian head of state said that Francis had highlighted the role of Cyril and Methodius and of Slavonic writing and culture.
Radev gave Francis a copy of an icon of Cyril and Methodius as well as a publication by Pope John Paul XXIII, who, before becoming Pope, was the Vatican’s envoy in Bulgaria. The Pope gave Radev a bronze plaque depicting St Martin wrapping his cloak over a poor man. “Let us not forget that Pope Francis chose to be the voice of the weak and the underprivileged,” Radev said.
Asked to comment on the visit of a delegation from the Republic of Macedonia to the Vatican, immediately after the audience given to the Bulgarian head of state, Radev expressed his expectation that after the formation of a government in the Republic of Macedonia, there will be a closer dialogue that will solve the problems that the two countries have with their shared history.
Radev said that Bulgaria was also expecting progress in the negotiations on a bilateral treaty on good-neighbourly relations with Macedonia.
The 2017 celebrations of the day of Saints Cyril and Methodius, which is marked in Bulgaria, Macedonia and Russia on May 24, have been overshadowed by Bulgaria’s reaction to Russian president Vladimir Putin having told his counterpart from Skopje that Slavonic script had come to Russia from “Macedonian lands”.
This has caused quite a stir domestically in Bulgaria, which has complex relations both with Russia and with its neighbour, the former Yugoslav republic.
(Photo of Pope Francis and President Radev: president.bg)