By Robin Gomes
Despite the age and health of Pope Francis, Slovaks are inspired by his energy and exhortation to live their faith caring for others in need. “It’s an encouragement to see the Pope so strong, encouraging everyone,” remarked Father Martin Kramara, the spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia (KBS).
The 84-year-old Pontiff who suffers from sciatica underwent intestine surgery in July. He is on the 34th Apostolic Journey of his pontificate, visiting Slovakia, September 12 to 15, after concluding the 52° International Eucharistic Congress in the Hungarian capital Budapest on Sunday.
Speaking to Vatican News, Fr. Kramara explained that when people saw the busy schedule of the Pope in Slovakia, they were wondering whether he would make it. But seeing him in the cathedral, at the presidential palace and at the nunciature was just “fantastic”, he said.
He said Slovak Catholics are happy to see this encouragement in faith because it is the successor of Peter coming to them to “show the way in times of incertitude, in times of Covid, when many people have lost their direction”. “The Pope comes and encourages us, not to look on ourselves but to look at others who may be left behind and need our help.” The Slovak bishops’ spokesman said, “It’s so enlightening for the country not to think about ourselves and of our own problems, which many times are problems of the first world, but to see brothers and sisters in need and helping them find the way to Christ.”
Recalling the motto of the Pope’s Apostolic Journey to Slovakia - “With Mary and Joseph on the Way to Jesus” – Fr. Kramara said that this is “really the way the Holy Father is showing the way of faith in Christ”. It is a faith that brings fruits, that is not selfish and closed in itself. The priest said that it is also a “faith of good humour, as we have seen these days, a faith that is so fresh and vivid”. He said the Pope speaks of a faith that makes people see others around, not just themselves. This is an encouragement not only for Catholics but for the whole country, which is talking about the Holy Father but also of Jesus and “things of faith”.