Slovakian Leader Meets Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 17, 2005 ( Benedict XVI received the president of Slovakia, Ivan Gasparovic, in audience, reported the Vatican press office.

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The meeting today was the first time that Gasparovic visited the new Pontiff, although it was not his first visit to the Vatican. The Slovakian head of state was in Rome on April 8 for Pope John Paul II’s funeral.

The Vatican press office gave no details on the conversation between the president and Benedict XVI.

During his visit to Rome, Gasparovic hopes to attend a Mass at the tomb of St. Cyril and to meet with Fra Andrew Bertie, the grand master of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta.

Gasparovic has been in office since last June. About 70% of Slovakia’s 5.4 million inhabitants are Catholics. The country joined the European Union in the spring of 2004.

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