Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič became the last head of state to be received by outgoing Pope Benedict XVI during an audience on Wednesday, February 27. The pontiff is due to step down this evening, February 28.
"I told him that Slovaks send him cordial greetings, they love him and even unbelievers respect him, because he’s done a lot for world peace," Gašparovič said after the private audience, as quoted by the TASR newswire. Gašparovič said that he was told by the pope that he values Slovaks for their devotion to the faith. The Slovak president also presented the pope with a relief depicting Saint Gorazd, the chief disciple of Saints Cyril and Methodius, and the first Slovak-born saint, accompanied by a letter in the name of the people of Slovakia.
The Slovak president expressed his regrets that Benedict XVI will not be able to visit Slovakia as the head of the Catholic Church. Both Gašparovič and Prime Minister Robert Fico last year invited him to attend celebrations in July this year marking the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius to modern-day Slovakia. The Slovak president said that he had told the pope that his resignation should not prevent him from visiting Slovakia.
A crowd in Saint Peter’s Square – which included Slovak bishops and ordinary Catholics who had arrived in Rome as part of a national pilgrimage – bid farewell to Benedict XVI. The pope briefly addressed the pilgrims in Slovak, saying: "I cordially bless you and your families in your homeland. Praise be to Jesus Christ."
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
28. Feb 2013 at 10:00