Italian priest withdrawn for hosting Syrian refugee family

An Italian priest has been withdrawn from his Bulgarian parish for hosting Syrian refugee family.

The local community objected to his decision to host the family.

Father Paulo Cortezi, who is returning to Italy, said he is now a refugee himself.

“I am leaving Bulgaria with my head up, proud, innocent.

“I sought to protect the innocent, decent, educated, honest, kind, humble and scared Syrians. This is not politics … I did not succeed, we did not succeed.

“God forgive me,” he added.

A group of Bulgarians from a civil society pressure group called on head of state President Roumen Radev to support Cortezi.

They asked Radev to “condemn manifestations of Nazism and xenophobia and to use all the power given to him by the constitution to counter illegal actions by mayors and municipal councillors across the country”.

Although the Bulgarian Catholic Church supports Cortezi, the country’s far larger Orthodox community is not encouraging.

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