VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 1997 (VIS) - The Holy Father concelebrated the Eucharist at 9:30 a.m. today on the esplanade of Letna, in Prague, for the millennium of Saint Adalbert, "Bishop of Prague, apostle of the Gospel in the heart of Europe and witness to Christ even to the supreme sacrifice of his life."

In Czech, the Pope told the 120,000 present that Saint Adalbert is the "zealous Pastor, whom Providence placed at the beginning of the history of the Slav Nations of Central Europe: of the Czechs, Poles, Slovaks and also of the Hungarian nation."

He recalled that the saint had to leave his episcopal see in Prague on two occasions due to the opposition of his fellow citizens. He then left as a missionary, first to Hungary, then to Poland, and finally to the Baltic, where he suffered martyrdom.

"As we look forward to the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, this celebration poses some specific questions not only to the citizens of the Czech nation but to all who venerate the holy martyr as a father in faith: what is the state of the spiritual heritage which he left behind? What results have been taken from it? Can today's Christians find in the teachings and example of their great Patron an inspiration and stimulus to contribute effectively to the building of a new civilization of love?"

"Saint Adalbert is a saint for the Christians of today: he invites them not to be defensive, not to keep for themselves the treasury of truths in their possession. ... On the contrary, he asks them to be open to present-day society, to seek out all that is good and valid in it, in order to raise it up and if necessary purify it in the light of the Gospel."

After the Mass and before praying the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father exclaimed: "(Saint Adalbert) is speaking still! ... He likewise addresses to every son and daughter of this nation an invitation to foster unity in diversity, to promote culture, and to harness the heart's deepest aspirations in the quest for the common good."

The Pope spoke off-the-cuff after the Regina Coeli and, in answer to the people's thanks, said: "Dearest ones, I too thank you, thank you very much. I thank everyone for our common liturgy. Surely you are stronger than today's cold weather. One can see that you are strong and persevering. God bless you all and be with you."

In mid-afternoon the Holy Father went to St. Vitus Cathedral for an ecumenical prayer service in honor of St. Adalbert. Before addressing the assembly, he prayed at the tomb of Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek, Prague's former archbishop.

"Despite the commands which Christ gave at the Last Supper," the Holy Father said, "we Christians have unfortunately become divided. The deep wounds opened during the religious history of Europe challenge our consciences. ... The imminence of the Third Millennium requires from all Christians a readiness to make ... a strict examination of conscience."

Pope John Paul acknowledged "the efforts of reconciliation and dialogue which in this land the various Churches and ecclesial communities are making in order to heal past wounds." He added that "this moving ecumenical meeting is for all of us the hour of charity. ... For it is in love that it is possible to ask God's forgiveness together and to find the courage to forgive one another for the injustices and wrongs of the past."

Pope John Paul concluded his visit to the Czech Republic with a farewell ceremony at Prague's airport just before 6 p.m. He expressed his "special appreciation to all those who with skill and dedication have worked in the preparation and running of this pastoral visit."

To the citizens of the Czech Republic he said: "The unique qualities of your people - strength of character, tenacity, openness to others, love of peace - after helping you to resist an ideological pressure which was among the most ruthless in Eastern Europe, have enabled you in these recent years to attain impressive goals of civilization and progress. ... I exhort you to be particularly careful to promote a matching spiritual progress."

av Webmaster publisert 31.03.2006, sist endret 10.03.2011 - 02:45