Bratislava, Slovakia, Sep 9, 2021 / 07:00 am
When Pope Francis touches down in Slovakia on Sunday, he will find a country greatly changed since a pope last set foot on its soil, according to a local bishop.
Bishop Jozef Haľko, an auxiliary bishop of Bratislava archdiocese, said that the “atmosphere around the Church” had altered since Pope John Paul II visited in 2003, in his third trip to the central European country.
“Pope Francis’ visit to Slovakia must be viewed in the context of St. John Paul II’s visits,” the 57-year-old bishop told CNA.
“Already during communism, before 1989, a large petition was launched asking that the pope be invited to Slovakia. The communist secret police had stifled this voice of the people, even persecuting those who had organized the collection of signatures.”