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Slideshow: The Pope in Bulgaria

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On his second day in Bulgaria, Pope Francis made an early morning visit to a refugee center, thanking children and families for their joy despite the pain of leaving their homes and the difficulties of integrating into another culture.

In off-the-cuff remarks at the Vrazhdebna refugee center , the pope said migration is a painful path, and that “it’s not easy to leave your land and to insert yourself into another land.”

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Earlier, Pope Francis offered First Communion to more than 200 Catholic children from across the nation, telling them that to receive the sacrament is both a miracle and a celebration of the fact that Jesus wants to be close to them in friendship.

Catholics in Bulgaria make up just 0.5 percent of the population of 7.1 million, but the church is growing and is predominantly young.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Sofia, Bulgaria, on the first day of a May 5-7 trip to Bulgaria and North Macedonia. Catholics are a minority in the country; they are estimated to be fewer than 50,000 in a population of over 7 million.

According to organizers, there were an estimated 7,000 people at Mass with Pope Francis. Tuesday morning, the Pope departs Sofia to start his visit in North Macedonia.

Photos: EPA

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