Slovakia – The warm welcome of Pope Francis by President Zuzana Čaputová

Most Holy Father,
dear Pope Francis,
my dear fellow citizens!

When I met you a few months ago, you told me that you carried Slovakia in your heart. These days, it is our turn to show you that your person, your spiritual mission and your thoughts also hold a place in our hearts.

I have in mind your words: “Today we are not living in a time of change, but a change of time”.

Our country, after the fall of communism, has also gone through and is still going through a period of great changes. Czechoslovakia has peacefully separated into two states, home to two brotherly peoples who respect and cooperate: the Slovaks and the Czechs. Slovakia is an integral part of the large family of democratic states of the European Union, which offers us important international guarantees for our security and prosperity.

Christianity and the Catholic Church have been an essential part of our cultural identity for centuries. However, we welcome you not only as a representative of one of the main religious families of this planet and its values, but also, and above all, as an indispensable source of inspiration for the future of humanity. The way in which you present the message of the Gospel in our time, not only as a “heritage of the fathers”, but above all as a path which transforms our present and indicates to us the next day, is very important for the future of Slovakia and for the future of Christianity in our country.

Today our world is interconnected in many ways and yet tragically divided. Each crisis, and in particular this pandemic, gives rise to words and actions that are too strong. A calm tone, listening and understanding are increasingly interpreted as manifestations of weakness. As if we were gradually getting used to the fact that the consequence of any human action, of any debate in the social or political field, had to be the defeat of those who do not share our opinions. And yet, if this “epoch change” is to be the beginning of a better future, we must change our approach. The consequence of each of our intentions, of social debate and political competition must not be victory or defeat, but understanding and acceptance of the other. The world faces many crises and the only way to overcome them is to work together. All we need is humanity, to realize, looking at the other, that I am you and that you are me, that we are all one. We must have the courage to express our humanity. We cannot help but live together and we will not succeed if we do not show mutual understanding and acceptance.

Most Holy Father, Pope Francis,

We welcome you to Slovakia as one of the greatest moral and spiritual authorities of humanity today. Your way of proclaiming the Gospel and your moral example are also a call to those who are far from the visible borders of the Catholic Church. You invite humility, mercy and human brotherhood. You call for a new culture of politics and a new economic ethic. In your social encyclicals, you warn against the major dangers of our time: populism, national selfishness, fundamentalism and fanaticism. You visibly oppose those who want to use religion for political ends. You stress that the heart of the Gospel is to help the weakest, the homeless, those who are driven from their countries by wars, terrorism and poverty. You repeat on numerous occasions that any form of anti-Semitism and religious intolerance is irreconcilable with Christianity.

I also remember the words you said during one of our discussions: “God always forgives, we men, sometimes, nature never”. I agree with you and in order to survive we have to learn again to be sensitive to our planet, which previously whispered, and today cries out that it can no longer take it, because we are too heavy to carry.

We must turn our gaze to the causes and consequences of the climate crisis, as a problem that concerns us all and seek solutions to share.

Most Holy Father,

We appreciate your visit to Slovakia. Our heritage is made up of fateful fights for survival, dignity, language, individual and national freedom, recognition, tolerance towards minorities, the safeguard of faith, but also biodiversity. Although we made mistakes and suffered setbacks, we managed to get back on our feet. This was the case during the Slovak national uprising as well as in November 1989. You arrive in front of warm and generous people, who honor their traditions and their land, where entire generations of parents and grandparents have in their homes l ‘inscription: “Guest in the house, God in the house”.

Most Holy Father, dear Pope Francis,

Welcome to Slovakia!


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