Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Papal Visit to a Land of Nonbelievers

Czech Prior Reflects on Benedict XVI's Next Trip

KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, SEPT. 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Though Benedict XVI's next apostolic visit will bring him to one of the most atheistic nations in Europe, many Czechs who describe themselves as nonbelievers still love the Infant Jesus of Prague, whom the Pope will visit on his first day in the Republic.

Prior Petr Sleich of the Carmelite monastery of the Holy Infant of Prague noted his countrymen's affection for the Infant Jesus when he spoke last week with Aid to the Church in Need about the Holy Father's trip to the Czech Republic this month.

"Many people are uncertain when it comes to God, but I wouldn't say they have no faith," he said, explaining that the aim of the papal visit is to focus people's hearts and minds on Christ. "I am certain that many [Czechs] will yet become [the Infant Jesus'] friends!"

According to Prior Sleich, the fact that the first stop on the Pontiff's program is the shrine of Our Lady of Victories, where the image of the Holy Infant Jesus has been venerated since the 17th century, is "the most powerful expression of this intention."

Benedict XVI will be in the Czech Republic from Sept. 26 to 28.

During his visit, the Pope will solemnly crown the image of the Infant Jesus, which, affirmed the 41-year-old Carmelite prior, is the highest honor Western Christianity can accord such an image.


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