Pope Francis and Slovak PM Heger discuss war in Ukraine
By Devin Watkins
The Prime Minister of Slovakia, Eduard Heger, met Monday with Pope Francis, according to a statement from the Holy See Press Office.
The two leaders recalled the Pope’s Apostolic Journey to Slovakia in September 2021, and expressed their appreciation for the “good bilateral relations and the role of the Church in society.”
The Pope and the Prime Minister also discussed the war in Ukraine “in depth”, along with “its impact on the regional and international level.”
Pope Francis and Mr. Heger gave particular attention to the “humanitarian situation and the reception of war refugees.”
The Slovak Prime Minster then met separately with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
Welcoming Ukrainian refugees
Ahead of his meeting with the Pope, Mr. Heger spoke briefly to Vatican News’ Luca Collodi.
The Slovak Prime Minister said he had come to Rome to meet Pope Francis to thank him for his three-day Journey to Slovakia last September.
Mr. Heger said he would speak with the Pope about the war in Ukraine, which has forced over 2.6 million people to flee the country.
Around 200,000 Ukrainian refugees have entered Slovakia since Russia invaded its neighbor on 24 February.
Mr. Heger said the number of arrivals per day are currently hovering around 10-12 thousand, but he added that he expects the number to surge in coming days as the Russian assault intensifies.
So, he said, Slovakia has plans in the works to increase its capacity to welcome Ukrainians fleeing the horrors of war.
Pope’s renewed appeal for Ukraine
The encounter with the Slovak PM came on the heels of Pope Francis’ renewed appeal for an end to the war in Ukraine.
At the Angelus address on Sunday, the Pope thanked the many European nations which are welcoming the millions of refugees from Ukraine, such as Slovakia.
He also spoke with “an aching heart” and joined the millions of ordinary people who are imploring “an end to the war.”