Catholics pray for new pope in east Europe

April 24, 2005 at 6:20 AM
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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia, April 24 (UPI) -- Roman Catholics across central and eastern Europe offered prayers Sunday for Pope Benedict XVI, as the new pontiff was inaugurated in Rome.

Bells rang across Warsaw, Prague, Bratislava and Budapest while national television channels broadcast the inauguration ceremony live to millions of viewers.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski was in Rome for the ceremony, as was Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda, Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Hungarian President Ferenc Madl.

Roman Catholicism is the dominant Christian denomination in Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. The Czech Republic, by contrast, also has a strong protestant tradition and the country is one of the most secular in Europe.

Seprately, in Poland, the birthplace of the late Pope John Paul II, the Mayor of Warsaw told the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper Saturday plans were afoot for the opening of a museum dedicated to John Paul's life and work.

John Paul II was a national icon in Poland. Pope Benedict is a popular choice as his successor in the country because it is assumed his conservative views will preserve John Paul's legacy intact.

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