Pope visits Czech Republic 20 years after fall of Communism
Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI will pay his second visit to eastern Europe when he travels to the Czech Republic for a three-day visit beginning on Saturday, as the region marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism.
The September 26-28 trip will take the pontiff to Prague, Brno in the south, and Stara Boleslav, a pilgrimage site north of the capital, dedicated to the country`s main patron Saint Wenceslas.
During his visit, the pope is due to discuss European themes, including the historic importance of Christianity and democracy in Europe, his spokesman Federico Lombardi said.
But the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism is bound to play an important role as well.
The Velvet Revolution, which overthrew the communist rule in the former Czechoslovakia in the autumn of 1989, was "an event of great significance not only for the Czech Republic but for neighbouring countries and the whole world as well,
and the pope will not be able to ignore this anniversary," a Vatican diplomat said.
Pope Benedict "will certainly broach this topic and we can see that as a sign of appreciation for what has been achieved in our society over the past 20 years, and what the Church has brought people," Jan Balik, spokesman for the Czech episcopal conference, told AFP, noting that this will be the pontiff`s only visit to a former communist state in this anniversary year.
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