Pope Francis called for “dialogue and solidarity” at yesterday’s Mass in Šaštín in western Slovakia near the border with the Czech Republic. Tens of thousands of people attended the service on the occasion of the feast of the Slovak patroness of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In his sermon, Francis encouraged believers to have conversations with people with different attitudes and to sympathize with people in need. He told the priests to have shorter and more intelligible sermons.
The pope spent four days in Slovakia and left the country on Wednesday afternoon. Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová, top constitutional officials, representatives of the Catholic Church, and other guests came to bid farewell to the head of the Catholic Church at the Bratislava airport. Dozens of believers stood on the way to the airport, hoping to see the pope for the last time, the Sme.sk news portal reported.
The pope spoke briefly with the Čaputová before leaving in the airport lounge, and then she accompanied him along the red carpet to the plane. Before boarding the Italian airline Alitalia, František shook hands with church officials, Prime Minister Eduard Heger and Speaker Boris Kollár.
Onboard the airline, the highest representative of the Catholic Church was accompanied by journalists. The flight to Rome takes about two hours.
On Monday, among other things, Francis met with the country’s top politicians and with church leaders. At a meeting with representatives of the Jewish community, he condemned anti-Semitism.
On Tuesday, the pope spoke out against discrimination against the Roma and talked about the need to integrate this minority. He did so during a visit to the largest Roma settlement in Slovakia, Luník IX, on the outskirts of Košice. He also spoke to young people at the Košice multi-purpose stadium.
Public interest in participating in events with the pope fell short of initial expectations, probably due to an increase in coronavirus infections and epidemic restrictions. In total, over 100,000 people registered for public events with the pope in Slovakia. The pope last visited Slovakia in 2003, when it was John Paul II. Before arriving in Slovakia, Pope Francis also spent a day and a half in Hungary.
Title image: Pope Francis meets with young people at Lokomotiva Stadium in Košice, Slovakia, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Francis first trip since undergoing intestinal surgery in July marks the restart of his globetrotting papacy after a nearly two-year coronavirus hiatus. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)