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Pope Francis to visit refugee centre during his stay in Bulgaria

The pontiff is visiting the EU’s poorest country which has taken a hard line against migrants.

Pope Francis is welcomed by Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov (Darko Vojinovic/AP)
Pope Francis is welcomed by Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

Pope Francis has arrived in Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest country and one that taken a hard line against migrants.

That stance conflicts with the pontiff’s view that reaching out to vulnerable people is a moral imperative.

On a two-day trip that began Sunday, Francis plans to tour a refugee centre and dive into the Vatican’s complicated relations with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

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Bulgarian honour guards wait for Pope Francis (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

Later in the day, Francis will talk with prime minister Boyko Borisov, whose centre-right, pro-Brussels coalition government includes three nationalist, anti-migrant parties.

The government has called for the closure of EU borders to migrants and sealed off its own frontier to Turkey with a barbed-wire fence.

Bulgaria, which joined the EU in 2007, is the bloc’s poorest country, with the lowest average monthly salary, 575 euro (£490) and the smallest average monthly pension of 190 euro (£162).

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