Pope Benedict XVI has called on Catholics in the Czech Republic to return to the fold, after years of declining Church numbers.
He arrived in Prague this morning at the start of a three day visit to the former communist country. Religion was heavily restricted during the decades of one-party rule. The Pope urged people to make the most of their present day freedom. “The cost of 40 years of political repression is not to be understimated. A particular tragedy for this land was the ruthless attempt by the Government of that time to silence the voice of the Church,” he said. Benedict prayed at the Our Lady Victorious Church, a traditional pilgrimage destination. Only 28 percent of Czechs say they are Catholics and few attend Mass regularly. The Vatican hopes this visit will rekindle their faith.