COMMENTARY: A wonderful event that gave hope to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in the heart of secularized Europe was unfortunately promoted by many as a ‘liberal’ Pope meeting an ‘illiberal’ prime minister.
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The Pope’s comments during the in-flight press conference came at the end of his four-day visit to Hungary and Slovakia.
On the final day of his visit to Slovakia, Pope Francis offered the live-streamed Mass outside the country’s National Shrine of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows in the young town of Šaštín.
‘When we embrace Jesus, joy is reborn. And the joy of Jesus, in pain, is transformed into peace,’ the Holy Father assured youth.
The Holy Father on Monday recalled the great suffering endured by the Jewish community in Slovakia during the Holocaust and encouraged Jews and Christians to be united in condemning violence and anti-Semitism.
Pope Francis to Slovakian Catholics: We Need ‘Creativity of the Gospel,’ Not ‘A Defensive Catholicism’
Slovakian bishops, priests, religious, seminarians, and catechists listened on headsets to a live translation of the speech, which the Pope delivered in Italian, frequently stopping for off-the-cuff remarks on everything from the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky to the importance of short homilies.
The Pope will also visit the Slovakian cities of Prešov, Košice, and Šaštín before returning to Rome on Sept. 15.
Pope Francis noted “how difficult it is to live your faith in freedom. For there is always the temptation to return to slavery, not that of a regime, but one even worse: an interior bondage.”
The Holy Father will spend three days in the Central European nation beginning Sept. 12.
Father Šandrik said he hoped that Pope Francis’ visit would not inflame tensions over the COVID vaccine and other issues in the country.