Spokesman: Pope Bringing Hope to Czech Republic

Observes Lively Christian Community in Secularized Nation

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 27, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The first objective of Benedict XVI’s trip to the Czech Republic is to bring hope to one of the most secularized countries in Europe, says a Vatican spokesman.

After today’s papal Mass celebrated at the Brno airport, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, made an assessment of the apostolic visit under way through Monday.

In his remarks, broadcast by Vatican Radio, the Jesuit priest said: “It seems clear to me that hope is the central theme of this trip.

“The Pope realizes that in our time there is a great need; there is a great thirst and this can be one of the great contributions that the faith can make, because it is capable of nourishing a great hope that goes beyond the small hopes that are very short-lived and that sustain our day-to-day lives but with a limited horizon.”

“Instead, the great hope, that which never dies, that which truly looks far into the distance and nourishes and sustains others, must be reawakened and no one, perhaps, can nourish this as do Christians who believe in the risen Jesus Christ.”

A large anchor, symbol of hope, was placed on the esplanade where the Mass was celebrated this morning in Brno.

“The anchor, in the Letter to the Hebrews, is precisely the description of hope,” Father Lombardi observed. “We have hope like an anchor that is in heaven, where Jesus Christ is together with God the Father, and we place our hope there with great force and certainty, that which sustains us and animates our whole life.”

The spokesman said that this papal visit, especially with Saturday’s speech to the diplomatic corps, continues the work begun by Pope John Paul II after the fall of communism, 20 years ago, promoting “freedom and truth.”

Benedict XVI performs this service, Father Lombardi suggested, showing that reason and faith can work together.

The Czech Republic is one of the most secularized countries in the world, but seeing an estimated 150,000 people present at the Mass, the Vatican spokesman observed: “We are certainly in a secularized land but it is a land in which there is also a very lively Christian community, full of faith and hope, [a community] that can make a cordial contribution to the society in which it lives.”

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