ANTONIO MENNINI: POPE WILL PAY RESPECT TO THE WHOLE BULGARIAN NATION

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | May 22, 2002, Wednesday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
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H.E. Mons. Antonio Mennini was born in 1947 in Rome. He graduated in theology and took holy orders in 1974. He has been working for the diplomatic corps with the Holy See since 1981. He was appointed Apostolic Nuncio in Bulgaria in 2000. Speaks English, French, German, Russian and Bulgarian.

H.E. Antonio Mennini answered questions of Milena Hristova


Q: What are your impressions of the expectations of the Papal visit in Bulgaria? Do you think they will coincide with the Pope's position?

A: In my opinion most Bulgarians, not only the Catholics, look forward to the visit of the Holy Father Pope John Paul II in Bulgaria. The visit underlines the good will and respect of His Holiness to the whole Bulgarian nation. They are primarily to the civil authorities in this country, to the President, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of the Republic, who bear the responsibility for the well-being of the whole nation, as well as to the spiritual leaders, starting with His Holiness Patriarch Maxim, head of the Holy Synod and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, as well as to the spiritual leaders of all other religions.

Q: Do you think there are people who view with apprehension the visit of the Head of the Roman Catholic Church in a predominantly Orthodox country?

A: I would like to remind that it was in Bulgaria that a National Committee to welcome H.H. Pope John Paul II was established. At the same time I would like to add that the Holy See highly appreciates the willingness of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to welcome the Holy Father with respect and traditional Bulgarian hospitality.

Q: Will the Pope's visit put an end to the hints at Bulgaria's involvement in the unsuccessful assassination attempt?

A; The Holy Father welcomes an official Bulgarian Delegation, which arrives in Rome on the occasion of the Feast of Sts Cyril and Methodius, every year on May 24, which is a clear and permanent signal of his feelings of affinity, affection, understanding and respect for the whole Bulgarian nation. As Mons, Leonardo Sandri, Substitute Secretary of State of the Vatican for General Affairs, underlined here in January the attitude of the Holy Father, right after the tragic accident, was filled with forgiveness to the actual perpetrators responsible for this painful episode.

Q: The Papal visit in Bulgaria is undoubtedly a historic event. What do you expect to be its most significant result?

A: The Apostolic visit of the Holy Father is a historic event as far as it makes possible a meeting between Eastern and Western Europe. This meeting will make everyone, here in Bulgaria as well, to rediscover the Christian roots on the European continent and the joint contribution that the West and the East, can make to build a common European home.

Q: The trip of Pope John Paul II to Azerbaijan and Bulgaria aims to promote dialogue with Islam and Orthodoxy. Will there be any major differences in the approaches to this end?

A: The Holy Father has always shown affection and respect to all other believers in the countries, which are not predominantly Catholic. This is the attitude of the whole Catholic church.

Q: The Pope will celebrate the beatification of the martyrs of Communism. What do you think is the main challenge Bulgarians face in dealing with the past?

A: As a continuation of our talk about the Apostolic visit of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Bulgaria, I would answer with the message he sent to Bulgaria, that is hold on to its almost natural calling to be a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe, pointing out that this country has the right to become part of the "common European home". The example and testimony of the religious people from the past must serve as a bridge to the present, so that we build a future of fraternity and affection between all members of this home.
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