LIVE AT 16:00 CET: Pope Francis meets Romani people at Košice's Luník IX housing estate in Slovakia
Pope Francis has been visiting Slovakia since Sunday. His program today includes meeting with Romani people, with youth, and celebrating the liturgy.
Today's events will be held in the east of the country after the head of the Catholic Church spent yesterday at different meetings in Bratislava, the capital. This morning the Pope celebrated the Byzantine Divine Liturgy outdoors for the public in Prešov.
At 16:00 he is scheduled to visit Košice, the second-largest city in the country, to meet at the Luník IX housing estate with Romani residents there; he is known for advocating the ideas of aid to the impoverished and of solidarity. In the past, Luník IX has drawn media attention because the large population of Romani residents there experience social problems.
Housing estate residents have been preparing for the visit since the early morning hours and the auxiliary program was already underway then, with holy mass being held on the occasion of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. As the Conference of Bishops in Slovakia reported, that mass was celebrated by a Slovak bishop usually working in Azerbaijan, Vladimír Fekete, who is a Salesian.
Don Jozef Luscoň, another Salesian, preached this morning's sermon. This afternoon the Choir of Luník IX will perform as part of the auxiliary program to the Pope's visit.
That will be followed by a spiritual section of the program, involving praying the rosary, bearing witness, and singing and dancing. The auxiliary program will include a video about Pope Francis and about the Romani saints Emilio and Cefirino.
The main program, the visit of the Holy Father to the housing estate, will take place outdoors in front of the Salesian Community Center from 16:00 to 16:30. The housing estate will be closed to access two hours before the Pope arrives.
Francis will also meet with youth groups elsewhere in Košice. His plane landed Sunday for this Slovak visit.
Yesterday he met with the country's political leaders, church representatives, and Jewish community representatives, expressing condemnation of antisemitism on that occasion. The visit will culminate tomorrow with the Pope celebrating mass in Šaštín, near the border with the Czech Republic.
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