- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
The Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanic, has invited the Catholic faithful in Croatia to welcome Pope Benedict XVI on his first visit to the country this weekend.
"We will flock to meet the Pope with open hearts, to pray together with him, hear his message and receive his blessing," Bozanic said in a written statement sent to press.
The Pope will address young people in Zagreb's main square, Trg Bana Josipa Jelacica, and in the square in front of the Zagreb Cathedral. In the Croatian National Theatre, the Pontiff will address representatives of science, culture, entrepreneurship and diplomacy and will meet representatives of religious communities, Bozanic said.
In the Zagreb Cathedral, Pope Benedict will pray at the grave of the blessed Alojzije Stepinac.
The central event will be an open-air mass to be held on Sunday at the Hippodrom racecourse as part of the first national meeting of Croatian Catholic families, to which all the faithful have been invited. "The Pope will address the Catholic families at the Hippodrom, bless them and extend to them a message of faith and hope," Bozanic said.
"On Saturday, between 5 and 6 p.m., residents of Zagreb, believers and pilgrims will be able to greet the Holy Father in the streets of our capital," Bozanic said. "On Sunday, at about 4.30 p.m., the Holy Father will pass in his Popemobile en route from the Apostolic Nunciature to the Zagreb Cathedral, and after Vespers in the Cathedral, at about 6 p.m., on his way to the airport."
Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Croatia takes place under the slogan "Together in Christ". It is his first visit since he was chosen as head of the Roman Catholic Church in 2005 and the fourth official Papal visit to Croatia. His predecessor, John Paul II, visited Croatia three times -- in 1994, 1998 and 2003.
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