John Paul II Urges Evangelization by Example

150,000 Participate in Mass at Roznava

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ROZNAVA, Slovakia, SEPT. 14, 2003 ( John Paul II urged Slovakians and others to carry out an evangelization not just with words but with the witness of their life.

On the third day of his stay in Slovakia, the Pope celebrated Mass on Saturday in the Podrakos Field, on the outskirts of Roznava, an old city of some 20,000 inhabitants.

«Words admonish, examples move,» the Pontiff told 150,000 pilgrims, who included 15,000 Hungarians and 10,000 Poles.

«You, with the style of your Christian life, can make a great contribution to the evangelization of today’s world and to the construction of a more just and more fraternal society,» the Holy Father said during a homily in which he addressed the main concerns of the local people.

Roznava, near Poland and Hungary, is a mining city with an unemployment rate over 50%. Many inhabitants feel abandoned by the nation’s politicians.

On the feast day of St. John Chrysostom, the Pope addressed the Hungarian faithful in particular, saying that their «presence constantly enriches» Slovakia.

Some 500,000 Hungarians live in Slovakia. In his greeting in Hungarian, read by Bishop Coadjutor Vladimir Filo of Roznava, the Pope invited them to safeguard «ecclesial unity, a factor of human and spiritual growth for the entire Slovak society.»

John Paul II also addressed farmers, who fear the price their sector will have to pay for Slovakia’s entry into the European Union next May. The farmers’ dedication, he said in his homily, offers «an indispensable contribution to the life of the nation.»

The commitment to Christian life requested by the Pope was exemplified when a pair of twins made him a gift of their dolls. The girls, born Siamese twins joined at the hip, were successfully separated in an operation in 2000.

The twins, Lucia and Andrejka, were introduced by Bishop Eduard Kojnok of Roznava, as examples of the commitment against abortion. «The mother could have killed two beautiful healthy girls if she had decided to abort,» he said.

The gesture served to support the decision of Slovak President Rudolf Schuster, present at the Mass, who refused to sign an amendment of the Slovak Parliament to extend the legality of abortion.

During the day, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls denied press reports that the Pope had to undergo special medical treatments when he arrived in Slovakia.

Commenting on the Holy Father’s fatigue after traveling 465 kilometers (288 miles) by car and air on Saturday, Navarro-Valls said that «the Pope’s physical limitations are obvious. What is extraordinary and moving is to see how he does not hide his illness; on the contrary, he makes it an integral part of his apostolic ministry and work.»

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