Pope Francis completes Slovakia visit with open-air mass

World

Published: 2021-09-15 15:09

Last Updated: 2021-09-19 20:02


Pope Francis completes Slovakia visit with open-air mass
Pope Francis completes Slovakia visit with open-air mass

Wednesday, Pope Francis finished off his four-day visit to Slovakia with an open-air mass in front of some 50,000 people in the town of Sastin-Straze in the west of the country.

The 84-year-old pontiff, who was on his first foreign trip since an operation in July, met with the Roma and Jewish communities during his visit and attended a large youth gathering.

In his homily, the pope called for "a faith that does not remain abstract" and "abounds in compassion" and warned religious leaders that "when the Church is stationary, it gets sick.”

Ahead of the mass outside the Sastin sanctuary, which dates back to the 14th century, the pope toured the grounds in his popemobile.

But papal events have been far more sparsely attended than organizers expected in a country where contagion fears are still high and only half the population is fully vaccinated.

The last pope to visit Slovakia was John Paul II, who travelled to the country three times. His last trip in 2003, which lasted four days, was overshadowed by concern about his declining health.