Pope Francis paid tribute to Christians in Romania killed or persecuted under Communism as he warned against any new ideological attempt to sow fear or division in society.
On the last day of his trip to Romania, Francis traveled to the central city of Blaj to beatify seven Communist-era bishops of the Eastern Rite Catholic Church who died in prison or as a result of their harsh treatment.
The pope beatified the bishops as martyrs at an open-air Mass said in the Byzantine rite used by Eastern Rite Catholics, moving them one step closer to sainthood.
He warned against “new ideologies springing up” that targeted young people and were as atheistic as those of the past because they try to uproot cultural and religious traditions.
“(There are) forms of ideological colonization (a term he used in the past as a reference to attempts by rich countries to link aid or economic assistance to acceptance of such things as birth control, abortion and homosexuality) that devalue the person, life, marriage and the family,” he said.
The pope on Sunday also asked for forgiveness in the name of the Catholic Church for the mistreatment of the Roma people, a move likely to increase tensions with Italy’s anti-immigrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.
Francis made the comment during a meeting with Roma people at the last event of his three day trip to Romania, saying his heart was made “heavy” by the meeting.