He said they also teach people to “accept the will of God in every situation,” even intense persecution, which is important because “in the end, every one of us will have our place, our time in which we will have to give witness to our values.”
Despite increasing secularization in Europe, including Romania, the country remains very Christian, primarily Eastern Orthodox, which makes up around 70% of the population, Man said.
But the country’s Catholics, numbering no more than 6% of the population, are more diversified, which makes speaking about the Church in Romania “very complex,” he explained.
The majority of Catholics in the country are of the Latin rite, and come from Romanian, Hungarian, and German language and ethnic groups.
There is also the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church, to which the soon-to-be beatified bishops belonged, which is a Byzantine rite Church in communion with the Holy See.
The Church’s unity and faithfulness to Rome was part of the reason for its persecution under the communist regime. “During communism, the Church was banned, because the communistic government did not support a Church which could not be controlled... which had as its head a pope who was outside the borders of Romania,” Man explained.
He said the relationship between Eastern and Latin rite Catholics is very good: “On the liturgical level there is a great difference, but as Catholics ... when there is an event, everyone participates.”
“There is a good understanding” between the two, he said. “It is normal because we have the same faith, it is just that the faith is manifested in a different way liturgically. As the faith it is the same.”
Pope Francis’ visit May 31-June 2 will include meetings with the Latin Catholic community in Bucharest, with Hungarian Catholics at a Marian shrine in Miercurea-Ciuc – which before 1920 was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary – and with the Romanian Greek-Catholic community in Blaj.
Encounters with Eastern Orthodox will be more limited. Francis will meet privately with Patriarch Daniel of Romania and with a small group from the Holy Synod, finishing with a quick stop at a newly constructed Orthodox cathedral, where they will pray the Our Father together.
Man said the relationship of the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic Church in Romania is “very delicate” and “not very friendly.” Though it has improved since the early 1990s, when there was conflict over the returning of Greek-Catholic properties given over to the Orthodox under communism, the “urgency” of that period is not as strongly felt.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“Bit by bit [the Orthodox] started to give back the churches,” he said, though “the question of patrimony is not resolved.”
Twenty years ago, when St. John Paul II visited the country, things were still “very tense” between the Orthodox and Greek-Catholics, he noted.
John Paul II wanted to visit Greek-Catholics in Blaj during his trip in May 1999 but was restricted to staying only in Bucharest because of Catholic-Orthodox politics.
“Now we have the joy of welcoming Pope Francis in all of the important places where there are Catholic faithful, no matter whether they are Greek-Catholics or Latins,” Man stated.
For Man, it is important to emphasize that Pope Francis’ visit is to the Catholic faithful. The pope will greet everyone, because his message of peace, love, and hope is for everyone, Man said, but he “comes above all as the head of the Catholic Church to visit the Catholic faithful.”