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Róbert Bezák: We like to hear people tell us that they will solve our problems

Perhaps it’s a diagnosis of society, that they are willing to elect anyone, says the recalled Trnava Archbishop.

Róbert Bezák(Source: Petit Press - Tibor Somogyi)

Róbert Bezák is a Slovak Roman-Catholic bishop, former Archbishop of the Trnava Archdiocese and a member of the Congregation of the Holiest Redeemer – the Redemptionists.

He was the youngest Slovak archbishop in history, and his removal after three years caused a wave of protests among believers, as well as the wider public.

If anyone wants to provoke a change in their environment, or in the wider world, they have to change themselves first. Have you changed in the last five years? If yes - what did you have to change in yourself?

Róbert Bezák (RB): Probably everything had to be changed. I studied to be a priest. The path of my life has been created in me, and the environment in which I operated, as well as the people I knew. In a single moment, this all collapsed, and I found myself on the periphery. I was still interested in continuing the work I started as a student, but I found myself in a vacuum, which is not the right space for a human to exist - since we cannot fly.

The first months and maybe even years were a total black space. I experienced depression in the sense of not knowing which direction to take and what to do next. If you experience something like that from 25 to 30, you can tell yourself that you can start something new. I was 52 and that is the age a man should be able to offer something, since time passes quickly. Some people disappeared from my life, too, since they were afraid. Those most precious remained, though. I instead had problems with myself: I said to myself that I had offered everything, and I did not create a background for myself - be it a family one, psychological, or economic. Suddenly I realised I had nothing but I told myself I would try to go on.

Read also:Bezák bids farewell, but his case lingers

I received offers from close ones to do a kind of mentoring, since I studied philosophy and ethics. I tried it but found out that this was not my true calling. I preferred spending time with people I can build a relationship with and work on it every day. So I started teaching, and became, at almost 60 years old, a secondary-school teacher for the first time.

Your book gives the impression that you are at peace and even-tempered; as if you arrived at a certain point and the book Zamyslenia (Contemplations) managed to capture your five-year journey. Have you felt the process of the book being written in this way, or is this just how it turned out ultimately?

RB: I’m glad if the book evokes this impression. Five years ago I had a certain vision, and in my position as Trnava archbishop it was possible to implement this vision. l had people to help me, and the necessary finances. And then all of a sudden there was nothing. Maybe it is necessary for humans to experience it firsthand. On the other hand, I don’t think people should masochistically try to feel poor, only to test what they are able to manage. This is what life itself brought about.

I read once that the freest human is the one who can manage with a little in his or her life – and I truly tried this kind of freedom. I realised that what I would really need is inner peace and a kind of personal background. To be able to prove to myself that even in this small space I can live with my thoughts and arrange them. I would be glad if my inner peace could shine a bit from my past experience. I don’t offer great thoughts. But many people live their simple lives and after what I have experienced, I must admit that it is not easy at all to live.

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