Updates: 14.09.2021 13:04
Prešov / Bratislava – Thousands of people arrived today in Prešov in eastern Slovakia for a liturgy with Pope Francis. The liturgy, celebrated by Greek Catholics, was the first major event for believers with the participation of the head of the Catholic Church during her current visit to the country.
Before the Mass began in the area near the sports hall in Prešov, where the Greek Catholic Archbishopric is located, the pope passed among the believers in a papamobile and greeted them. Many of them had Vatican flags in their hands.
“Christians are not persecuted here. Secularization and lukewarmness, however, devalue testimony, while the cross requires clear testimony. A witness who has a cross in his heart and not only on his neck sees no one as enemies, but all as brothers and sisters,” the pope said in a sermon. According to him, the cross cannot be limited to a sign of religious and social significance or to a political symbol.
The papal throne, on which Francis sat during the liturgy, was made by a carpenter who, together with his wife, raises eight children and who is himself a Greek Catholic. According to the newspaper Sme, 30,000 believers took part in the liturgy, and the public Radio and Television of Slovakia stated that the participation exceeded 40,000 people.
The spread of coronavirus infection also marked the course of the liturgy. Due to the reception, the organizers bought 25,000 teaspoons so that each person interested would have their own teaspoon.
In the census in 2011, less than four percent of the population in Slovakia joined the Greek Catholic Church. Most of the country’s inhabitants identified themselves as Roman Catholics.
In the afternoon, the pope will meet the Roma in Košice, the second largest city in Slovakia, and then also the youth. His visit to Slovakia, which he began on Sunday, will culminate on Wednesday at Mass in Šaštín near the border with the Czech Republic. Around 50,000 people registered for it.
Public interest in participating in public events with the Pope during his visit to Slovakia fell short of original expectations. Due to the coronavirus infection, people had to register electronically in advance, and at first only those who had been fully vaccinated against covid-19 could get tickets. Last week, the organizers set aside a small part of the reserved sectors for people who will only have confirmation of a coronavirus test or covid-19. In total, over 100,000 people signed up for public events with the pope in Slovakia, with a population of five million, of whom almost 7,000 were not vaccinated against covid-19.
Source: České noviny – hlavní události by www.ceskenoviny.cz.
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