site.btaPope Francis Receives Bulgarian Parliamentary Delegation
The Bulgarian parliamentary delegation, led by National Assembly Chair Rosen Zhelyazkov, was received by Pope Francis on the occasion of the Day of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius, of the Bulgarian Alphabet, Education and Culture and of Slav Letters - May 24.
The delegation included representatives of all parliamentary groups in the 49th National Assembly, the President's administration, the Government, the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis addressed the Bulgarian parliamentarians by congratulating them on being together in the name of Bulgaria, despite their differences.
The Bulgarian Parliament's Chair had a one-on-one meeting with the Pope. Zhelyazkov pointed out that he had presented Pope Francis with a hand-embroidered icon with the images of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius and St Clement, made with gold and silver threads.
Zhelyazkov also met with the Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. He presented the Cardinal with an album "History of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church".
On the occasion of May 24, the National Assembly Chair wished the Bulgarians health, optimism, faith, hope and love. "On this holiday, which for me is the best Bulgarian holiday, connected with literacy, spirituality, writing, with what we are increasingly forgetting - the communion with books, on this day we should wish ourselves only good things. This was also the topic of my conversation with the Pope," he told journalists, describing the discussion as very warm.
Zhelyazkov said that Pope Francis has expressed his joy at having a representative from every political force. According to Zhelyazkov, the Pope had asked if communication is difficult, to which he replied that they are united in the name of national causes. The Pope said this is wonderful and encouraged it. He said it's wonderful that we're both different and so united, Zhelyazkov explained.
Rosen Zhelyazkov pointed out that the Pope, for his part, gave him a very interesting sculpture. "It depicts a flower and a dove, which are "torn apart" in the form of a cross, with the message that peace and relations are so fragile that we must protect them in every way," he added.
"My conversation with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin was more political, but again with the understanding that in a Christian Europe the most important thing is to build bridges," the National Assembly Chair said. He pointed out that all important topics were touched upon at the meeting, among them the war in Ukraine and issues related to the Republic of North Macedonia. They were very familiar with the latest developments in the political situation in Bulgaria and encouraged, as all other European leaders did, the process of normalization of our political life, Zhelyazkov added.
After the audience with Pope Francis, the Bulgarian delegation attended a solemn Orthodox liturgy and a prayer service at the Basilica of St Clement, where St Cyril's tomb is located. The service was led by Metropolitan Anthony of Western and Central Europe, with the participation of clergy from the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, seminarians from the Sofia Theological Seminary and representatives of the Faculty of Theology of the Sofia University St Kliment Ohridski.