Pope Francis is “very likely” to visit Bulgaria in May 2019, after a visit to the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said in a television interview on December 7.
Serious preparations were underway for the visit, Zaharieva told Bulgarian television station bTV.
“According to my information, the visit will include Bulgaria and Macedonia. The Pope never travels only to one country – that is part of their traditional protocol,” Zaharieva said.
In May 2018, after Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov was received in audience by Pope Francis, it emerged that the Vatican was prepared to consider a visit by the Pope to Bulgaria, Romania and perhaps a country from the Western Balkans.
A visit by the Pope to Bulgaria was discussed between head of state President Roumen Radev and the Apostolic Nuncio to Bulgaria, Archbishop Anselmo Guido Pecorari.
Argentinian national news agency Télam reported earlier, citing sources in the Vatican, that apart from Bulgaria, Pope Francis would visit both Romania and Macedonia, with the tour beginning in early May in the former Yugoslav republic.
The only previous visit by a serving head of the Roman Catholic Church to Bulgaria was in 2002, when Pope John Paul II visited.
The majority of Bulgarians declare themselves to be Orthodox Christians, with Roman Catholics constituting a small minority among the country’s Christians, similar in number to Protestants in Bulgaria.