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Slovakian Archbishop sees conspiracy against Church

The archbishop of the Slovakian capital Bratislava has said that media criticism of the Government's $A3.25 million contribution towards this week's papal visit reflects a conspiracy against the Church.

The daily newspaper SME quotes Archbishop Ján Sokol's suggestion that the conspiracy will only deepen and cause more damage than the elimination of religion during the communist regime.

The Christian Democratic Movement's (KDH) Pavol Minárik has confirmed that no other official visit by a leader has been surrounded by such intense debate about its costs.

Meanwhile the British Catholic newspaper The Universe reports that Pope John Paul II is "flying in the face of terror" by choosing to fly to Slovakia on Thursday, which is the second anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the the USA.

The four-day visit is the 83-year-old Pontiff's 102nd foreign trip and his third to Slovakia, and Vatican planners have ensured that it is not a demanding journey, despite involving visits to four cities, Trnava, Banska Bystrika, Roznava and Bratislava.

The high point of his visit comes on the last day, next Sunday, when he presides at the beatification ceremony for two 20th century martyrs for the faith, Sr Zdenka Schelingova and Bishop Basil Hopko, who both died in Communist prisons.

Sr Zdenka was arrested by then-Czechoslovakia's communist regime on 29 February 1952, two years after the forced suppression of all religious orders. She was working in Bratislava, in the state hospital's X-ray unit. Although the charges were never published, a fellow-prisoner, Helena Kordova-Wildeova, testified that Sister Schelingova had described helping a hospitalized priest, Father Stefan Kostial, escape from secret police detention after giving tea laced with sleeping pills to the ward guard.

Slovak Spectator
The Universe
Catholic News Servie

Holy Father to visit Slovakia next week (5/9/03)
Physical frailty limits Pope's travel schedule (Catholic World News)
'Morality pact' to boost Catholic influence in Slovakia (23/8/03)
Catholic Bishops Conference of Slovakia | Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of Slovakia for the Spiritual Preparation before the Third Visit of the Holy Father to Slovakia
Papal Visit to Slovakia (official website)
Apostolic Journey to Slovakia (Vatican Website)
Catholic Bishops Conference of Slovakia
Archbishop Ján Sokol, Archbishop of Bratislava-Trnava (
Catholic Church in Slovakia (

8 Sep 2003