Košice, Slovakia (AP) — Pope Francis will visit the neighborhood of Slovakia next week. Most Slovaks didn’t even think about going. Until recently, even the police avoided it after dark.
Francis will visit the Roma community in the Lunix IX district of Košice, Slovakia’s second largest city, and will be one of the highlights of the pilgrimage to the “center of Europe”.
Francis will be the first deity to meet the most socially excluded minority groups in Slovakia. A worthy place for the “Pope of the Surroundings,” Lunick XI is the largest of the approximately 600 shabby isolated settlements inhabited by 20% of the country’s 400,000 poorest Romans.
In most cases, there is a lack of basics such as water and sewerage, gas and electricity.
“It’s a great honor for us,” said Marcel Sana, Mayor of Lunick IX, who has been a local inhabitant since the age of two. Poor people at a social disadvantage who need such assistance. “
For Peter Zatkrak, one of the four priests of the Salesians of Don Bosco, a Catholic congregation who emigrated to Lunick IX in 2008, the arrival of the Pope resumes relations between Rome and others. This is your chance.
Rome has long suffered from racism and discrimination in Slovakia and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, and continues to face major hurdles in employment and education.
“Rome has been isolated from the majority many times in the past and we didn’t want to see it,” said Zatkulak. “But we need to integrate them, and that’s what’s happening now. Through prayer, Slovakia and Rome, and the church, because we have to harm each other and end it. I would like to seek a reconciliation between them. It’s time to start over, saying sorry. “
He said Francis was the key to the process.
“We, the people of Kosice, need to remind the world that every big city has a dark side that we don’t want to see. And the greatness of Francis is that he draws our attention to it. It’s aimed at, “he said. “Let’s be shy about our past cheating, but let’s try to fix them.”
Andrea Bakowa, Slovak government’s special envoy for Roman affairs, said he hopes Francis’ trip will help the region “in the next few days and months, not a one-off step.” rice field.
News about the Pope’s visit quickly spread to every corner of Lunick IX, raising the expectations of an estimated 6,000 inhabitants.
“When I heard about him, he tends to visit the poorest people, which may be the reason he decided to come to be the poorest region in Slovakia,” says Monica Grasova. I did. A 19-year-old high school student leads a choir at Sunday Mass, a church founded by the Salesians.
“It means to me that he brings new light and hope to our neighborhood,” she said.
She and some members of her choir produced a rare sound for the Mass of this Roman Catholic fortress by singing to the beat of the drums and became one of the people chosen to sing for Francis. Become.
“It’s great that he comes. It’s from the Lord (a gift), he’s in Lunick IX from the Lord,” Anna Turtakova, 67.
Sana, the first local mayor of Rome with a college degree, was in charge in 2014. It caused many improvements in the blocks of communist concrete apartments. The infamous pile of garbage has disappeared and the uninhabitable buildings have been demolished. Streetlights will be re-installed while dozens of surveillance cameras help ensure safety and order. Local schools are highly regarded and playgrounds are open for local children.
However, from the stage of being built for Francis in front of the Salesian Center, it is clear that poverty still dominates here, despite the mayor’s efforts and recent improvements.
At the edge of Lunik IX, the poorest occupy a slum of improvised huts that stretch between trees and bushes.
Jan Hovas, who lives with his wife and four children, planned to go see the Pope with his family, but he didn’t expect much.
“I know what it brings to us, but no one helps us,” said the 41-year-old. “We have to rely on ourselves.”
The warm summer days are just around the corner, and he is worried about keeping warm during the freezing winter months.
One of his neighbors, Dyoniz Horvath, 56, was more positive about the Pope’s journey.
“Hopefully at least something will change for us. He is, after all, the second hand of the Lord, or Jesus Christ. Who else should we trust?”
Francis arrives in Slovakia after a short stay in Hungary on Sunday. While in the country until Wednesday, he will also visit the capitals Bratislava, Prešov and Sustain.
The last Pope’s visit to Slovakia was made in 2003 by Pope John Paul II.
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Pope Francis visits poor Roman district of Slovakia | WGN Radio 720
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