Pope Francis cracked jokes Monday and took an ambling stroll to greet well-wishers as he opened his first full day in Slovakia in good correctly being and spirits forward of a solemn encounter with the nation’s Jewish neighborhood. 

Francis arrived on the presidential palace, and later on the capital’s St. Martin cathedral, trying rested and energized on the second day of his four-day pilgrimage to Hungary and Slovakia, which marks his first worldwide outing since present course of intestinal surgical course of in July. 

“I’m still alive!” Francis quipped when requested by an Italian journalist how he was feeling as he walked up a ramp into the cathedral for a gathering with Slovak monks and nuns, the place he cracked a sequence of jokes in an indication he was in good spirits. 

Pope Francis, flanked by Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova, right, attends a welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday.

Pope Francis, flanked by Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova, right, attends a welcoming ceremony on the presidential palace in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday.


Francis, 84, has been recovering after having 13 inches of his colon eradicated for what the Vatican talked about was a extreme narrowing of the massive gut. He has appeared in good kind, although he used a golf cart buggy indoors on Sunday all by way of a rigorous few hours in Budapest to restrict an extended stroll, and has been delivering some speeches sitting down. 

But he stood for a very very very long time to greet monks and bishops — nearly all of them maskless — on the tip of his assembly. And he then took an prolonged stroll all through the cathedral piazza to greet pilgrims, clearly having pleasing with the welcome and enthusiasm of the gang after the coronavirus put a cease to his world travels for over a yr. 

At his first cease of the day on the Bratislava presidential palace, Francis educated President Zuzana Caputova, Slovakia’s first feminine president, that the coronavirus pandemic had been the proper take a look at in current historic earlier, nonetheless that it ought to current a lesson for the long run. 


Ahead of a rigorous two days hop-scotching spherical Slovakia, Francis is spending Monday in Bratislava the place the spotlight of his go to is a day encounter on the capital’s Holocaust memorial, constructed on the location of a synagogue destroyed by the communist regime contained in the Nineteen Sixties. 


Pope Francis blesses an unidentified man as he greets the gang whereas leaving the Cathedral of Saint Martin, in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday. (AP)


He goes into the occasion having referred to as on Sunday for Christians and Jews to work collectively to cease the rise of antisemitism in Europe, saying it’s a “fuse which must not be allowed to burn.” 

Slovakia declared its independence from Czechoslovakia on March 14, 1939, and have end up to be a Nazi puppet state with politician and Roman Catholic priest Jozef Tiso changing into the nation’s president. 

Under his rule, the nation adopted strict anti-Jewish approved suggestions and deported some 75,000 Jews to Nazi demise camps the place some 68,000 perished. Tiso was sentenced to demise and hanged in 1947. 

Now, solely about 5,000 Jews keep in Slovakia, a largely Roman Catholic nation of 5.5 million at present dominated by a four-party center-right coalition authorities. 

Just closing week, the federal authorities formally apologized for the racial approved suggestions that stripped the nation’s Jews of their human and civil rights, prevented their entry to schooling and licensed the change of their property to non-Jewish homeowners. 

Marking the eightieth anniversary of the “Jewish Code” adopted on Sept 9, 1941, the federal authorities talked about in an announcement Sept. 8 that it “feels a moral obligation today to publicly express sorrow over the crimes committed by the past regime.” 

The code was thought of one of the hardest anti-Jewish approved suggestions adopted in Europe by way of the warfare. 

Slovakia is now dwelling to the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia, which has had members in Slovakia’s Parliament since 2016. The occasion overtly advocates the legacy of the Slovak Nazi puppet World War II state. Its members use Nazi salutes and need Slovakia out of the European Union and NATO.