Archbishop Stanislav Zvolenský, president of the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia, said on July 4 that the announcement was “extremely happy news.”
“I’m really looking forward to it. I think that many of us are, at this moment, very happy to return to the memory of the visit of the Holy Father John Paul II,” he said, referring to the Polish pope’s 1995 visit to the country.
“And again we can say that the successor of the apostles, now Pope Francis, is coming to Slovakia.”
Slovakia is a nation of 5.5 million people bordering Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, and Austria. An estimated 62% of the population is Catholic.
The country was formerly part of Czechoslovakia, which divided into the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic in 1993 following the collapse of communism.
Zvolenský urged Slovakians to begin preparing spiritually for the visit so that they “can really hear Pope Francis’ message.”
“It is a message of receptivity to those who suffer, who are on the margins of society, who are in some way in need, whether material or spiritual,” he said.
“Then there is his great care for the good of the family, his great sensitivity to the needs of the youth.”
“These topics will certainly be the content of Pope Francis' visit to Slovakia.”
“I think we can expect a great spiritual strengthening in this area.”