• Leo D. LefebureEmail author
Part of the Pathways for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue book series (PEID)


Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria, as a novice papal diplomat in April 1925, just two weeks after a terrorist attack at a church had targeted King Boris, who escaped unharmed. He was the first papal representative to come to Bulgaria in more than half a millennium, and after long centuries of bitter distrust, the newspaper of the Bulgarian Orthodox Holy Synod suspected the new apostolic visitor of bringing Latin imperialism and proselytism. In a most unpromising situation, Archbishop Roncalli immediately asked the king for permission to visit those who were wounded in the terrorist attack. Despite the difficult atmosphere of hostility, Roncalli sought again and again to get to know people as individuals, make connections, and establish relationships. When he moved to Istanbul as papal representative in 1935, he brought the same concrete concern to Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians who also distrusted Catholics. Through his persistent, generous efforts, he succeeded in arranging for a representative of the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch to attend the Te Deum celebrating the beginning of the pontificate of Pope Pius XII in 1939—the first time since the Great Schism of 1054 that this had occurred.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgetown UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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