Today is the third and last day of Pope Benedict XV's Pastoral Visit in the Czech Republic. He celebrated Mass yesterday in Brno, the central city of Moravia, the most Catholic area of the Czech nation.
The Pope's interview on the plane heading from Rome to Prague included a question that touched on the difficulties of speaking of faith in this ex-Communist land which suffered more than other countries from the official atheism (perhaps only Albania's case was worse). At any rate, today more than half of the population of the Czech nation claims to be religiously indifferen, or even hostile to religion. But the Pope sees in this fact a wonderful opportunity for the believing minority.
Money quote: "Both [agnostics and believers] need each other".
Your Holiness, the Czech Republic is a very secularized nation in which the Catholic church is a minority. In that situation, how can the church contribute effectively to the common good of the country?
It’s normally the creative minorities that determine the future. In that sense, the Catholic church must understand itself as a creative minority with a legacy of values which are not a thing of the past, but which are a very living and relevant force that must be realized, rendered present in the public debate, and in our struggle for a true concept of liberty and of peace.
In that sense, the church can make contributions in various sectors. The first, I would say, is precisely in the intellectual dialogue betwween agnostics and believers. Both need each other: The agnostic cannot be content to not know, but must be in search of the great truth of faith; the Catholic cannot be content to have faith, but must be in search of God all the time, and in the dialogue with others, a Catholic can learn more about God in a deeper fashion. This is the first level, the great intellectual, ethical and human dialogue.
In the educational sector, the church has much to offer in formation. It Italy, we talk about the problem of the ‘educational emergency,’ a problem common to the whole West, and here the church must once again actualize, concretize, and open up for the future its great legacy.
A third sector is Caritas: the church has always regarded charity as a sign of its identity, to be in service to the poor, to be an organism of charity. Caritas in the Czech Republic does a great deal for different communities, in situations of need, and offers much also to suffering humanity on the different continents. It thereby gives an example of responsibolity for others, of international solidarity which is the basis for peace.
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St. Wenceslaus, Patron Saint of Bohemia (903-929)
Wenceslas , also known as Vaclav, was born near Prague and raised by his grandmother, St. Ludmilla, until her murder by his mother, the pagan Drahomira.
Wenceslaus's mother assumed the regency over Bohemia about 920 after her husband's death, but her rule was so arbitrary and cruel in Wenceslaus' name that he was compelled on behalf of his subjects to overthrow her and assume power for himself in 924 or 925.
A devout Christian, he proved a gifted ruler and a genuine friend of the Church. German missionaries were encouraged, churches were built, and Wenceslaus perhaps took a personal vow of poverty.
Unfortunately, domestic events proved fatal, for in 929 the German king Heinrich I the Fowler (ruled 919-936) invaded Bohemia and forced Wenceslaus to make an act of submission. This defeat, combined with his pro-Christian policies, led a group of non-Christian nobles to conspire against him.
On September 28, 929, a group of knights under the leadership of Wenceslaus' brother Boreslav assassinated the saint on the doorstep of a church.
Virtually from the moment of his death, Wenceslaus was considered a martyr and venerated as a saint. Miracles were reported at his tomb, and his remains were translated to the church of St. Vitus in Prague which became a major pilgrimage site.
The feast has been celebrated at least since 985 in Bohemia, and he is best known from the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslaus."
PHOTO ROUND-UP (SEPTEMBER 18-26)
Archdiocesan Youth Ministry Kick-Off, Praise and Worship at the Diocesan Centre, September 19, 2009
170th Anniversary Mass at Paroisse Saint-Luc, Curran, September 20, 2009
A visit to the Cemetery for Prayers, Saint-Luc, Curran
Life Teen Evening: Supper between Mass and the Meeting, Annunciation of Our Lord Parish, Gloucester, September 20, 2009
Getting ready for the Life Teen Mass, Annunciation Parish, 20-09-09
St. Paul's University, Ottawa: the newly-installed Rector and the Chancellor, following the Mass of the Holy Spirit inaugurating the Academic Year 2009-2010, September 25, 2009
Ukrainian Catholic clergy attend the Garden Party following the Mass of the Holy Spirit and the new Rector's Installation at St. Paul University, September 25, 2009
Marker indicating the burial site of Saints Jean de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant, in the recontruction of Sainte-Marie-among-the-Hurons, Midland, Ontario
Right: Reliquary containing skull of St. Jean de Brebeuf and relics of other Canadian Martyrs, Martyrs Shrine, Midland, Ontario
Left: Jesuit Novices from the USA and Canada imbibe the spirit of the North American Jesuit Martyrs, Martyrs Shrine, Midland, ON, on their feast day, September 26, 2009
Concelebrants and servers vesting for the Feast Day Mass, Martyrs Shrine, September 26, 2009
Jesuit priests and brothers sharing conversation, fellowship prior to feast day dinner, Martyrs Shrine, September 26, 2009