00 9/22/2009 2:56 PM

A couple of items from the Czech news agency CTK:

Pope Benedict in Brno:
In his 3 trips to Cezch Republic,
John Paul II did not visit
the second largest Czech city

CTK used this striking photograph to illustrate the story.

Brno, Sept. 19 (CTK) - Pope Benedict XVI will go to Brno on his Czech visit, because he may hope that the Mass he will celebrate at Brno-Turany airport may attract lots of believers as well as non-believers in the relatively religious part of the country, trip organizers said at a news conference today.

Participants in the conference also said the Pope may want to show appreciation for a diocese that is dynamically developing, and to honor the second largest Czech city, which his predecessor never visited.

In three trips to the Czech Republic, John Paul II visited Prague, the capital; Olomouc, north Moravia; Velehrad, south Moravia; and Hradec Kralove, east Bohemia.

Jaroslav Sebek, from the Czech Science Academy Historical Institute, said participation in the Mass in Turany may be record-setting. OrganiZers expect some 100,000 people.

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk told today's issue of daily Mlada fronta Dnes that the idea for a visit by Benedict XVI to the Czech Republic was first raised in 2005.

"In our country there is a low number of believers and the Pope is coming to encourage us," Vlk said.

Benedict XVI will arrive in the Czech Republic at the invitation of President Vaclav Klaus on Saturday, September 26.

On Sunday 27 he will celebrate an open-air Mass in Brno.

On Monday, September 28, the Pope will take part in the celebrations of St Wenceslas Day in Stara Boleslav, central Bohemia, the place where Wenceslas was murdered in 935.

St Wenceslas is the patron saint of Czechs.

Archbishop of Prague presents
Czech translation of CIV

Prague, Sept. 2 (CTK) - Public speeches by Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the Czech Republic on September 26-28 will probably be based on his new encyclical, Prague Archbishop Miloslav Vlk said today during the presentation of its Czech translation.

Cardinal Vlk, along with Olomouc Archbishop Jan Graubner, today also presented a unique rosary of gold and Bohemian garnets, which the Bohemian and Moravian will donate to the Pope at the close of his visit.

The Pope's new encyclical, his third in a row, called Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth) was published on July 7. Its name connects two essential phenomena of the Christian revelation - love and truth.

The text of the encyclical deals with current social issues in the world, including the roots of the economic crisis and globalisation, Vlk added.

Diplomatic circles also think the Pope will touch upon the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the communist regime in Europe.

The Pope will celebrate two great public masses - in Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic, and in Stara Boleslav, central Bohemia, in honour of St Wenceslas, patron Saint of Bohemia, who died a martyr death in this town.

The Czech translation of the Papal Encyclical of some 100 pages was presented three weeks beforethe Pope'arrival in the Czech Republic.

Vlk said, commenting on the encyclical, that the Pope's main goal is not to moralise and criticise what is wrong, but to offer solutions.

"It is an extraordinary encyclical because of its wide scope. This is unusual for the Pope," Vlk noted.

Czech church and political representatives are preparing various gifts for the Pope.

The bishops had a unique rosary created for him. Its rosette will become the shape of special commemorative medals issued on the occasion of the Pope's visit.

This will be the first Papal visit to the Czech Republic in 12 years.

The predecessor of Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, visited the Czech Republic in 1995 and 1997, and in 1990 he paid a visit to the former Czechoslovakia.

Vatican reports higher number
of Czech Catholics than census

Prague - The Vatican has reported that over three million Catholics live in the 10-million Czech Republic, that is ,almost one-third of its population, but the real number of active believers is probably low, according to the latest census, experts addressed by CTK have agreed.

The latest population census in 2001 showed that over 2.7 million people profess the Catholic religion in the Czech Republic, which was almost 1.3 million fewer than in 1991.

The Vatican press centre released the information, based on the Holy See's statistical data as of December 31, 2008.

A total of 10.38 million inhabitants, including 3.29 million Catholics lived in the the Czech Republic as of that date, says the Papal press centre in a report released by the Czech Bishops' Conference on its website.

However, the number of Czech Catholics stated by the Vatican appears to be based on the number of baptised children, whereas the current number of observant Catholics woregularly attend divine services is not known and will probably be lower, experts told CTK.

"The Catholic Church considers everyone who is baptised its member. These people do not have to claim they belong to the Church in a census," Jiri Gracky, from the Czech Bishops' Conference, said.

The Vatican has used data from individual dioceses, Gracky added.

There are no available data on the number of Catholics during the 20-year Communist era except for the 1950 census.

Religion expert and theologist Ivan Odilo Stampach says there is an immense difference between the number of people who say they follow the church and real believers.

According to the Vatican press centre, there are nine church administration units in the Czech Republic, five Bohemian and three Moravian dioceses and the Apostolic Exarchate of the Greco-Catholic Church, with 2576 parishes and another 70 pastoral centres.

A total of 20 bishops, including three Greco-Catholic ones, 1370 diocesan and 586 monastic priests, 116 monks and 1609 nuns serve the Czech Republic. Besides, 184 theology students are preparing for the priest's profession. However, Opatrny says the number of candidates for priesthood is not rising in the country.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/22/2009 3:52 PM]