Pope Urges Czechs to Revive Religion

Article excerpt

Pope John Paul II called Saturday for a revival of religion in the Czech Republic and urged the nation's leaders to be sensitive to suffering in society.

The pontiff, who earlier said Mass before a crowd of 40,000 in the town of Hradec Kralove, held private talks with Czech President Vaclav Havel before addressing a meeting of the sick and members of religious communities.

"I would like to address a pressing appeal to the nation's leaders to be constantly sensitive to the situations of suffering present in today's society," the pope said at the meeting. Civil authorities "should promote effective and constant solidarity within society." The Czech Republic has one of the highest standards of living in the former Soviet bloc, but the pope said Friday that it faced "a growing crisis of values." In Hradec Kralove, 60 miles east of Prague, the pope told a crowd of mostly young people that four decades of communist persecution had left the faithful feeling like the early Christians. …