Bratislava, Slovakia – Only people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to attend the masses celebrated by Pope Francis during his planned visit in September.
Health Minister Vladimir Lengvarsky said it was the only solution to hold events with an attendance exceeding the current limit of 1,000 people for public gatherings.
“We want to make the visit of the Holy Father in Slovakia a spiritual experience for as many people as possible,” Lengvarsky explained.
“In this way, even if the pandemic situation worsens, as many people as possible will be able to attend services with the Pope”, reacted President Zuzana Caputova, who met with the pontiff in Rome last December.
“I believe the presence of the pope will be a message of reconciliation and hope for us all in these difficult times,” the head of state wrote on Facebook earlier this month.
Prime Minister Eduard Heger also said he supported the decision to allow only fully vaccinated people to attend the masses and other events that make up Pope Francis’ program in Slovakia.
Pope Francis himself has been vaccinated against Covid-19 and received the first dose as early as January. “I’ve signed up. One must do it,” he said.
The Vatican confirmed he would visit Slovakia for a three-day visit on September 12-15, with stops in Bratislava, Presov, Kosice and Sastin.
Before Slovakia, the Pope will be in Hungary for a brief visit to celebrate the closing mass of the International Eucharistic Congress, on September 12.
The last papal visit to Slovakia dates back to 2003, when John Paul II traveled to the Central European country for the third time.