Pope Francis, 84, returned to Rome this Wednesday afternoon by air from Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, after a triumphant tour that strengthened him in power due to his good physical performance that keeps versions of a resignation on the horizon. Also because after a year and a half of pandemic, Jorge Bergoglio was able to return to the crowd restrooms.
In the morning, he concluded his four-day tour in Slovakia, one of the countries poorer of the European Union, with 5.5 million inhabitants, of which 60% are non-practicing Catholics.
Greeted enthusiastically by a crowd on the day the country celebrates the day dedicated to the Virgin of the Seven Sorrows, the patron saint of Slovakia, Jorge Bergoglio traveled 70 kilometers from Bratislava, the capital, to the Sastin shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary. , and toured with the popemobile the roads of the place filled with 60 thousand faithful who acclaimed him.
The Argentine Pope was splendid humor And he also showed in this last appointment that he is in good health, talking standing up and having conversations with people without looking tired.
Bergoglio underwent surgery last July 4 in Rome at the Gemelli hospital for a diverticulum infection that forced the surgeons to remove 33 centimeters of the intestine and he was hospitalized, recovering ten days before returning to the Vatican.
The doctors advised him to read his speeches sitting down and not get tired. Bergoglio complied but showed that the period of convalescence is over. Doctors and two Vatican nurses accompanied him continuously during the trip.
Since the beginning of the pandemic the Pope lived in isolation that bothered him of the people, because his apostolic trips, the general audiences on Wednesdays at the Vatican and many meetings with the faithful, religious and Church authorities had to be suspended.
Only once, on the first day in Budapest, where he stayed seven hours on Sunday to close the International Eucharistic Congress, the Pope, who had to read his speech in a meeting with religious authorities, said “excuse me, but I’m not 15 years old.”
A country without vaccines
A serious problem that threatened the trip was the worsening of the pandemic in Slovakia, where only 40% of the population You have completed the immunization with two doses of the virus vaccines.
On Tuesday and Wednesday the measures to avoid crowds were warned with a certain drama. But only at the meeting on Tuesday afternoon did the pontiff with the young, masks that protect against contagion were used massively by the crowd gathered in a stadium.
At the meeting at the Sastin sanctuary, control measures were adopted over the people, given the announcement that the pandemic is worsening. The vast majority were asked to prove that they had been immunized or had overcome the disease. Three thousand unvaccinated were authorized but they attended isolated from the rest.
At no time did the Pope use the chinstrap and many who spoke to him did not either. “Let us pray that there are no infections”said a priest in Sastin before a group of journalists.
In his homily during Mass at the Shrine of the Virgin of Seven Sorrows, Francis again launched “from the heart of Europe” a call for acceptance and solidarity, as essential components of Christian identity in Europe.
“Society is divided and hostile”, but the world “needs Christian weavers of dialogue when positions are hardened”, spreading “the good perfume of welcome and solidarity where personal and collective selfishness often prevail.”
The pope, also urged by the news that half a million Afghans may try to reach the West in the remainder of the year after the Taliban seize power in Afghanistan, said that “Christians must protect and guard life where the logic of death reigns ”.
The Slovak president was present at the mass Zuzana Caputova and Prime Minister Eduard Heger.
Bergoglio called prerogatives “compassionate” that must have an “authentic and sincere faith, not” with the foot in two shoes “but rooted in evangelical values.
“The Virgin is the model of the faith of this Slovak people, of a faith that sets out always animated by a simple and sincere devotion.”
The bishops and priests were invited to “do not stop” because if they do “they make the Church sick, they make the people of God sick.”
Faith, Francis summarized, must “share life towards those who are wounded, who suffer and who are forced to carry heavy crosses on their backs.”