Friday, December 23, 2011

Pope pays tribute to Havel, his visionary leadership

Prague ( - Pope Benedict XVI has paid tribute to the late Vaclav Havel and his visionary leadership in developing democracy after the 1989 fall of communism in the Czech Republic in a letter that former papal nuncio to Prague, Giovanni Coppa, read at the beginning of Havel´s state funeral today.

In the letter, addressed to President Vaclav Klaus, the Pope expressed his sadness at the death of Havel, a playwright, dissident and Czechoslovak and Czech first post-communist president. The Pope voiced his sympathy to the mourning Czechs.

Benedict XVI wrote he remembers how courageously Havel defended human rights at the time when the Czech people were systematically deprived of them.

He paid homage to Havel´s visionary leadership with which he helped create a new democratic establishment after the fall of the previous regime.

At the close of his letter, Benedict XVI thanked God for the freedom people in the Czech Republic enjoy.
Havel died at his country house in east Bohemia on December 18 aged 75. His state funeral started in Prague´s St Vitus Cathedral at noon today.

In 1990, shortly after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Havel, in his capacity as president, invited the then Pope John Paul II to visit Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovakia then became the second Eastern Bloc state that John Paul II visited, after his native Poland. John Paul II paid another two visits to the Czech Republic in 1995 and 1997.
Benedict XVI visited the Czech Republic two years ago.

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