Vatican Ratifies Pact for Church in Slovakia

Pope Receives President Rudolf Schuster

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2000 (ZENIT.org).-
John Paul II expressed the hope for a «profound spirit of constructive collaboration» between Slovakia and the Catholic Church, when he ratified a concordat signed by that country and the Holy See.

The ratification ceremony Monday was held in the Vatican, in the presence of Slovak President Rudolf Schuster. The Holy Father emphasized that «a new stage begins in reciprocal relations between the Holy See and the Slovak Republic.»

After years of Communism, the Church now enjoys liberty, and the new agreement means that it will «cooperate with the other living forces of society in the spiritual and material good of the person and with the common good.»

The concordat foresees possibilities for cooperation in youth formation, a matter which the Holy Father emphasized to the Slovak delegation. The Church has acquired 100 new schools and ordained 100 new priests in the decade since the fall of the region´s Communist regime.

Slovakia, located south of Poland, has 5.39 million inhabitants, about 63.7% of whom are Catholic. Slovakia separated peacefully from the Czech Republic on Jan. 1, 1993.

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