Bratislava, September 13 (TASR) – Despite many tests, Slovakia as a country in the heart of Europe has managed to integrate and differentiate itself in a peaceful manner, said Pope Francis in a speech delivered before representatives of the state, civil society and the diplomatic corps in the Presidential Palace Garden in Bratislava on Monday.
The history of Slovakia predestines it to be a messenger of peace in the heart of Europe. While the struggle for supremacy continues on various fronts, let this country continue to reaffirm its message of integration and peace, and let Europe be characterised by solidarity exceeding its borders that can bring it back to the centre of history, stated the Holy Father.
Pope Francis expressed his pleasure at being in Slovakia and said that he came as a pilgrim to a young country with a long history and to a country with deep roots, located in the heart of Europe. “I really am in a ‘central country’ that so many have passed through,” stated the pope. From Great Moravia to the Kingdom of Hungary, from the Czechoslovak Republic to the present, Slovaks have managed to integrate and differentiate themselves in a peaceful way in the midst of many tests, he added. “Twenty-eight years ago the world admired the birth of two independent countries without conflict. And I would like to remind you that this happened immediately after the canonisation of Saint Agnes,” he said.
The pope pointed to the blue stripe on the Slovak flag that symbolises brotherhood with other Slavic nations. According to the Holy Father, this brotherhood is necessary to support integration, which is becoming increasingly important. “It is urgent right now, at a time when, after difficult months of the pandemic, we expect, along with many difficulties, the coveted restart of the economy, aided by the European Union’s recovery plans,” he said. However, he pointed to the risk of rushing and succumbing to the temptation of profits, provoking a temporary euphoria that divides instead of uniting.
The Holy Father also mentioned the coronavirus pandemic in his speech, describing it as “the test of our times”. According to him, people should accept this crisis as “a challenge to revise our lifestyles”. The pope sees no point in complaining about the past; there’s a need to roll up our sleeves and build the future together. “I hope that you to do it with your eyes staring upwards, as if you were looking at your beautiful Tatras,” he said.