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Pope Benedict XVI visits ahead of election

September 26, 2009 - CZECH REPUBLIC

Pope Benedict XVI visits during a time of political turmoil in the Czech Republic. The center-right minority cabinet collapsed in a no-confidence vote in March. A caretaker government replaces it. The Pontiff's visit is described as apostolic and coincides with the feast day of the country's patron saint, St. Wenceslas, but its timing ahead of an October early parliamentary election could be viewed as political. It will raise the profile of candidates with whom he is photographed and of Catholic candidates in general.

Pope Benedict XVI visits during a time of political turmoil in the Czech Republic. The center-right minority cabinet collapsed in a no-confidence vote in March. A caretaker government replaces it. The Pontiff's visit is described as apostolic and coincides with the feast day of the country's patron saint, St. Wenceslas, but its timing ahead of an October early parliamentary election could be viewed as political. It will raise the profile of candidates with whom he is photographed, and of Catholic candidates in general. He can count on large crowds -- at least 100,000 people in Brno -- in a country where Catholics far outnumber members of other faiths, but where the biggest percentage of the population professes no religion. According to the Vatican, the Pope arrives in Prague at midday, then visits Czech President Vaclav Klaus and other politicians in the presidential palace. He celebrates Vespers at the city's cathedral later that day. On Sep 27, he travels to Brno for a Mass, then returns to Prague for meetings with religious and academic leaders. On the 28th, he travels to Stara Boleslav to visit the church of St. Wenceslas, then returns to Prague for his flight back to Rome. Jul/09

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Date written/update: 2009-09-26