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Archbishop conducts New Year's mass

AT A NEW Year's Day mass in St Martin's Cathedral in Bratislava, Archbishop Ján Sokol urged Slovaks not to be dismayed by the current tough social conditions, saying the year ahead should be one of prosperity despite many potential troubles, wrote the TASR news agency.

The year 2004 was marked by positive economic growth as well as fear of the widening gap between rich and poor, the lack of jobs and natural disasters, the archbishop said.

"It is not financial profit but the welfare of people that should come first," he said, in reference to reforms in the education and healthcare sectors. "Reforms are necessary but should not threaten the health and lives of citizens of our country," Sokol stressed.

Among the congregation were President Ivan Gašparovič and Speaker of Parliament Pavol Hrušovský.

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