reflections, updates and homilies from Deacon Mike Talbot inspired by the following words from my ordination: Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach...
Pope encourages Slovakian pilgrims to promote peace through solidarity
Pope Francis encourages pilgrims from Slovakia to cultivate the richness of diversity of Slovakian society and Church and its culture of hospitality, commending Slovakia’s solidarity with Ukrainian refugees
By Lisa Zengarini
Pope Francis on Saturday received in audience some 2,500 pilgrims from Slovakia visiting Rome to thank him for his Apostolic journey to the country 12-15 September 2021.
They were accompanied by Archbishop Stanislav Zvolenský of Bratislava, President of the Slovakian Bishops’ Conference. Attending the audience were also Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and some representatives of Slovakian authorities, including the President of Parliament and the President of the Constitutional Court.
The richness of diversity
Greeting the pilgrims in the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Holy Father spurred them to continue to cultivate the richness of diversity of Slovakian society which can also be found in the local Church, with its different rites and traditions bringing together the Christian West and East.
Walking the path of encounter
“When I came to see you, I wanted to encourage you to walk the path of encounter, all together: young people, families, the elderly, the different communities that have historically been part of your society”, the Pope recalled, reminding that the culture of encounter is built on “the search of harmony between diversity, that requires welcome, openness and creativity”, he said.
He also recommended “not to tire of invoking the Holy Spirit”, to heal past wounds in Slovakian society and Church The Holy spirit is the Creator of harmony and the balm of wounds!
Working for peace through charity
Pope Francis went on to commend Slovakian culture of hospitality and solidarity symbolized by the Slavic custom of offering bread and salt to visitors as a sign of welcome, which has proved itself again in the tragic context of the ongoig war in Ukraine.
Indeed, as pointed out in his introductory remarks by Archbishop Zvolenský, many Slovakian families, parishes and institutions have offered shelter to Ukranian mothers and children forced to flee Ukraine after the Russian invasion.
“Looking at their eyes uou are the witnesses of how war breaks family ties, deprives children of the presence of their fathers, of school, and leaves grandparents stranded”, Pope Francis noted.
He therefore urged them “to continue to pray and work for peace, which, he said, “is built in our everyday life, even with these gestures of welcoming charity”.
“Whoever welcomes a needy person performs not only an act of charity, but also of faith, because he recognizes Jesus in his brother and sister.”
The legacy of Saints Cyril and Methodius
Pope Francis further invited Slovakian Catholics to preserve and cultivate the legacy of Saints Cyril and Methodius, so as to build bridges of fraternity together with all the European peoples who have been nourished by the same roots, with both the Christian lungs of Europe – Western and Eastern – mentioned by Pope St. John Paul II
Concluding , the Holy Father thanked Slovakian Catholics for their fidelity to Christ, expressed through their witness of a living faith, their good ecumenical relations, their charitable deeds, respect for human life and responsible care for the environment.