The Bulgarian Orthodox Church haa rejected the idea of joining prayers or services with Pope Francis. In a statement last month, it explained its position, saying that the invitation for the Pope’s visit was made by state authorities.
Pope Francis who has begun a three-day visit to Bulgaria and North Macedonia aimed partly at improving relations with the Orthodox Church ,met Orthodox leaders in Bulgaria on Sunday, though they had already rejected taking part in joint services or prayers with him.
The Vatican has long been working to unite the two branches of Christianity, which split in 1054.
The pontiff’s arrival in Bulgaria on Sunday marked the first visit by a pope to the country in 17 years.
Since his arrival, the Pope has met Orthodox Patriarch Neofit and visited an Orthodox cathedral in the capital, Sofia, on Sunday.
The Catholic population of Bulgaria is estimated to be 58,000 with 15,000 in North Macedonia.