Pope Francis meets with Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger to discuss the country’s aid to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.
By Devin Watkins
Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger met with Pope Francis on Monday, according to a statement from the Holy See Press Office.
The two leaders recalled the Pope’s apostolic trip to Slovakia in September 2021 and expressed their appreciation for “the good bilateral relations and the role of the Church in society.”
The Pope and the Prime Minister also discussed the war in Ukraine “in depth”, as well as “its impact on a regional and international level”.
Pope Francis and Mr. Heger paid particular attention to the “humanitarian situation and the reception of war refugees”.
The Slovak Prime Minister then met separately with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
Reception of Ukrainian refugees
Before his meeting with the pope, Mr. Heger spoke briefly with Franco Piroli of Vatican News.
The Slovak Prime Minister said he came to Rome to meet Pope Francis to thank him for his three-day trip to Slovakia last September.
Mr. Heger said he would speak with the pope about the war in Ukraine, which has forced more than 2.6 million people to flee the country.
About 200,000 Ukrainian refugees have entered Slovakia since Russia invaded its neighbor on February 24.
Mr Heger said the number of arrivals per day is currently hovering around 10-12,000, but he added that he expects that number to increase in the coming days as the Russian onslaught s intensifies.
Thus, he said, Slovakia has plans underway to increase its capacity to receive Ukrainians fleeing the horrors of war.
Pope’s new appeal for Ukraine
The meeting with the Slovak Prime Minister follows Pope Francis’ renewed call for an end to the war in Ukraine.
During the Angelus address on Sunday, the pope thanked the many European nations hosting the millions of refugees from Ukraine, such as Slovakia.
He also spoke with “an aching heart” and joined the millions of ordinary people who are crying out for “an end to war”.