Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Tuesday 21 September |
The Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle
home iconChurch
line break icon

Slovakia eases Covid restrictions surrounding Pope Francis’ visit

Slovakia papal visit logo


I.Media for Aleteia - published on 09/07/21

Registration opens beyond the fully vaccinated, to those with a negative test and those who have recovered from the virus.

The bishops of Slovakia announced in a statement that people with a negative COVID-19 test or who have recovered from Covid will be able to attend Pope Francis’ events during his trip to Slovakia.

The Pope will arrive in Slovakia on the evening of September 12 and depart in the afternoon of September 15.

The statement, published on the bishops’ web site, states that participants will need “a negative test or confirmation of recovering from COVID-19 in the last 180 days” and offers guidelines on the sanitary restrictions.  

This decision steps back previously announced measures from the Conference of Bishops and Slovakian authorities, which stipulated that only the fully vaccinated would be able to attend the Pope’s events. 

Wrestling with vaccines

Slovakia has had a troubled history with the Covid vaccines. In March, Slovakia’s Prime Minister Igor Matović formally resigned from his post after he caused a political crisis with a secret deal to buy 2 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Slovakia is a member of the European Union, which has not approved that vaccine, and various of Matović’s government opposed the idea.

Hungary (where the Pope will stop first on Sunday, to close the International Eucharistic Conference) was the only other EU country to use the Russian vaccine.

Matović said he was trying to boost vaccine availability in Slovakia, which ranks 9th in Europe for deaths per population due to Covid.

By early July, however, the Slovakian government was looking to sell or donate the doses of Sputnik V that had been purchased due to low demand for the vaccine.

Low vaccine rate

The policy change regarding the papal visit came after concerns that few people would be able to attend the Pope’s events. In the country of around 5.5 million people, only around 40% are fully vaccinated as of September 7, according to John Hopkins University’s vaccine tracker. However, the case counts in the country have stayed low since the spring.

In 2018 around 63% of the population identified as Catholic.

On August 25, a bishops’ spokesperson, Fr. Martin Kramara, confirmed that only around 30,000 people had registered to attend the Pope’s mass in Sastin-Straze. Local media reported that only around 13% of the total 450,000 people expected had signed up for the events. Juraj Hrabko, a political commentator and former MP, warned on state television on August 28 that Slovakia could face “national embarrassment” if the restrictions were not relaxed.

“It’s true that Slovaks are accustomed to leaving things till the last moment – but it seems not even the Pope’s authority can bring believers to get vaccinated to see him live,” Hrabko said. Several politicians and parties also called for an easing of the sanitary restrictions. 

Our complicated times

On August 29 a pastoral letter from the bishops was read in all parishes, strongly encouraging the faithful to sign up for the events. 

“While we are fully aware of how complicated the present situation is, we appeal all the more for those not prevented from doing so to participate,” the statement read. “We invite and encourage you: bring the necessity of registration as a sacrifice for the Church and the salvation of immortal souls – and come personally to form a community of unity of brothers and sisters.”

With the new rules, those with a negative test or who have recovered from COVID-19 were able to begin registering to participate as of

COVID-19Pope Francis
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Domitille Farret d'Astiès
Attacked with acid as a baby, Anmol Rodriguez overcomes and inspi...
Esteban Pittaro
Argentine “Mother Teresa” was a former model and actress who embr...
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
Our Lady of La Salette
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady of La Salette can give us hope in darkness
Cerith Gardiner
12 Habits of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati that every young adult...
Visalia CHURCH
J-P Mauro
The largest Catholic parish church in the US will soon be in Cali...
Zelda Caldwell
A pilgrimage to Paris’ Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.