Vatican City (Fides Service) – From 11-14 September 2003 Pope John Paul II will make his 102nd apostolic journey which will take him to Slovakia, to visit four cities Trnava, Banska Bystrica, Roznava and Bratislava. The Pope and his entourage will depart from Rome on 11 September at 9 am to land in Bratislava airport and drive to Trnava. On September 12 the Pope will go to Banska Bystrica and on the 13 to Roznava. The Pope will spend Sunday the 14 September in Bratislava and depart in the evening for a two hour flight to Rome.
Slovakia has borders with five different countries: Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to the west and the Czech Republic to the north west. Formerly with Bohemia and Moravia a member of the Czech and Slovakia Federation (name which replaced the previous Czechoslovakia in 1990) on 1 January 1993 Slovakia gained total independence with its own parliament and executive. The president of the Republic is elected by parliament.
Slovakia has a population of 5,400,000. There are 3,659,000 Catholics, gathered in 8 ecclesiastical circumscriptions looked after by 18 bishops, 1,893 diocesan priests; 615 religious priests; 226 Brothers; 2,895 Sisters, 1,793 Catechists, 933 major seminarians. (Church’s book of statistics 2000). SL (Fides Service 15/7/2003 EM lines 16 Words: 209)