Hundreds of believers gathered in Nitra to pay tribute to Saints Cyril and Methodius in a nationwide pilgrimage on Tuesday, a public holiday in Slovakia, with the Mass being celebrated by Bernard Bober, Archbishop Metropolitan of the Kosice diocese.
Bober pointed to the "irreplaceable role" of the Church in society, which, according to him, has been fully manifested during the pandemic and the refugee crisis stemming from the war in Ukraine. The archbishop reproached the current secular powers, especially in Europe, for not caring about the services of the Church, whose work is viewed with contempt and irony. "At a time when a financial and technical focus is emphasised instead, it seems as if we are forgetting that we also need to work on the spirit. Spiritual work is often seen as unnecessary. Bishops and priests are viewed negatively, and various generalising labels are given to us based on the failure of a few individuals among our ranks who are a disgrace for ourselves as well," he said in his homily.
Archbishop Bober noted that the Church sees it as an injustice when a one-sided view of it is given great importance in the media and social space. "One positive report doesn't outweigh another ten that seek to present the Church as a power machine, a brake on progress or a den of predators," he remarked.
He was hinting at the recent three-year punishment with 4 years suspension given to priest Frantisek who admitted having sexually abused a 14-year-old teenager for several years. In the same parish, another priest, Peter, was sexually abusing a 12 year old girl.
According to him, there are no reports about the Church's services to society, no mention of its considerable contribution to social reconciliation, and no word of the Church's care for the mental health of the population, especially during the pandemic and the refugee crisis. Its contributions to education, cultural life, health and charity are also glossed over, he added.
At the same time, the archbishop called on state representatives never again to allow masses to be defined as a mere mass event, a move that could lead to another blanket ban on them, as was the case during the most critical pandemic-related times, adding that religion is about more than just culture.
The message of Saints Cyril and Methodius is timeless and universal, President Zuzana Caputova stated on her Facebook account on Tuesday, which is a national holiday in Slovakia dedicated to the two saints. The President added that although others also spread faith and education within the territory of Great Moravia, it was Cyril and Methodius who became the Christian co-patrons of Europe.
"The timelessness of their message and wisdom is confirmed by a quote that seems to be ahead of its time, when St. Cyril defended the equality of people and nations to priests: 'Does not God's rain fall upon all equally? And does not the sun shine upon all as well? And do we not all breathe air in the same way? Are you not ashamed to mention only three tongues, and to command all other nations and tribes to be blind and deaf?'" wrote the president.
The president noted that St. Cyril and St. Methodius delivered to the ancestors of Slovaks religion and education, the basic values on which modern civilisation stands to this day. Likewise, they imparted knowledge and wisdom, which enrich people, plus writing and letters, which do not harm, but enable hope to spread, Caputova added.
Source: TASR, RSI