What are we to expect from Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Voyage to the Czech Republic that begins on Saturday?
One theme of discussion that has come up in the last few weeks is secularization. Just over 31% of the Czech population identify themselves as Catholic, according to statistics
released by the Vatican this week. The Czech Republic has even been called one of the "least religious" regions in Europe by some observers.
Vatican Press Office director Father Federico Lombardi, SJ hinted earlier this week that the Holy Father will "encourage the Church to offer a contribution of vitality, hope and charity to the secularized society in which it finds itself." With a small segment of people going to Church, ecumenism will no doubt come into play as all Christians look for ways to be heard by society at large. The trip also comes on the 20th anniversary of the fall of Communism and, on September 28th, the national feast day of the martyr St. Wenceslaus -- the patron of the country.
This trip likely won't have the drama of his visit to the Holy Land last May, but it will nonetheless be an important trip. Still suffering the effects from 40 years of communist religious suppression, the Pope is bringing the Gospel to a country, to a generation, that has not been exposed to Christ's message. To use the motto of this trip, he'll be offering an invitation to consider that the love of Christ is our strength!
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