Stará Boleslav – The Pope’s first visit to the Czech Republic ended with an open-air mass in the town of Stará Boleslav, some 30 kilometers northeast of Prague.
As the country marks the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution which brought down the four decades of one-party rule, the pontiff spoke of the wounds the communist regime inflicted on the once Christian nation by arresting priests and believers, closing down churches and promoting God-free creed.
“Those powerful figures had risen to almost unattainable heights and suddenly they found themselves stripped of their power,” said Benedict, clearly referring to the fall of communism in then Czechoslovakia in 1989.
The pontiff also urged a crowd of mainly young people not to stray from Christianity.
The cheering crowd of tens of thousands of people often interrupted the head of the world’s one billion Catholics.
In the Saint Wenceslas basilica he paid homage to the saint’s skull on the anniversary of his murder on Sept. 28 in 935 AD, reminding the youngsters of his suffering.
The 10th century ruler is believed to have been killed by his pagan brother because of his Christian faith in 935 in front of the Stará Boleslav basilica.Treading with care
Before coming to Stará Boleslav, Benedict visited Prague’s Saint Vitus Cathedral and addressed a crowd of 120,000 in a Brno airfield.
Many analysts point out that the Pope carefully chose only certain topics, deliberately avoiding others, such as same sex marriages and abortion, which is both allowed in this largely secular country, in which only one third of people are believers.
Trying out few sentences in Czech, Benedict spoke mainly in English and Italian.
During his visit, the pope was expected to raise the issue of church property which was confiscated from the Church by the Communists during their 40 years in power. However, Czech PM Jan Fischer said over the weekend that both sides agreed to postpone the controversial issue for later.
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