Press Advisories

25. 5. 2012 23:56

Prime Minister Petr Nečas meets Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican

Prime Minister Petr Nečas came to the Vatican as part of the preparations for next year's celebrations commemorating the 1,150th anniversary of the arrival of Cyril and Methodius in Great Moravia.

Prime Minister Petr Nečas started Friday's visit to the Vatican with a tour of the Basilica of St Clement, where, accompanied by the Minister for Culture Alena Hanáková, Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, and the Archbishop of Olomouc Jan Graubner, he honoured the memory of St Cyril at his grave.

Celebrations of the anniversary of the arrival of Cyril and Methodius in Great Moravia will culminate in 2013 in Velehrad, where Pope Benedict XVI has also been invited. His visit has yet to be confirmed. "This is a matter that we will start addressing shortly. We would be most pleased to welcome the Holy Father to the Czech Republic again," said the Prime Minister.

During his subsequent visit to the Basilica of St Peter, Prime Minister Petr Nečas laid a flower on the grave of Cardinal Josef Beran and then stopped at the altar of St Wenceslas, where Cardinal Dominik Duka said a prayer for his country.

At eleven o'clock, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Nečas, had an audience with His Holiness Benedict XVI in the library of the Apostolic Palace. Prime Minister Petr Nečas presented His Holiness with a gift of a copy of the 9th-century Strahov Gospel. The Pope gifted the Prime Minister a fountain pen.Prime Minister Petr Nečas meets Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican

After the audience with the Pope, Prime Minister Petr Nečas met the Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the Secretary for Relations with States Dominique Mamberti in the Apostolic Palace. "We discussed relations between the Czech Republic and the Catholic Church, the restitution of church property, and the Czech-Vatican Treaty that has been signed but not ratified by Parliament. We will work on these matters. I assured the Cardinal that Parliament was debating the restitution law and that we would do our utmost to get it passed," said Prime Minister Nečas.

In the afternoon, Prime Minister Petr Nečas and his delegation attended a solemn mass at the Basilica of St Praxedes officiated by the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski; the sermon was delivered by Cardinal Miloslav Vlk. After Mass, the Prime Minister visited the Papal Oriental Institute. In the evening, he attended a concert at the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major performed by the Zlín-based Bohuslav Martinů Symphony Orchestra and the Hradišťan Choir, held in honour of Cyril and Methodius. "The life and work of Saints Cyril and Methodius left behind an indelible legacy. This applies to the whole of Europe, but in particular to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. For our peoples, the Cyril and Methodius tradition remains very much alive, as evidenced by the fact that in many countries in the region, including the Czech Republic, the festival of these saints is celebrated as a national holiday," said Prime Minister Petr Nečas in his speech before the concert.

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