The Vatican is (are?) worried by the growing secularity of the Czech nation and people. Census data show that the number of people who claimed to belong to a church dropped by 1.2 million between 1991 and 2001, to approximately 3.3 million, or about a third of the country's population, and a recent survey suggested that approximately half of all Czechs do not believe in God. Cause for concern indeed.
The Pope's plan was to use his visit to remind people of the repression the religious suffered under communist rule, and to ask people to 'reconsider' a faith that most of them appear to be doing perfectly well enough without.
Addressing a crowd of some 120,000 followers in the city of Brno (the Vatican had suggested as many 200,000 would attend) the holy one said that: “History has demonstrated the absurdities to which man descends when he excludes God from the horizon of his choices and actions.”
Doubtless you can imagine my thoughts on this little pearl of rampant hypocrisy.
Standing near a 12m (37') high steel cross, which fortunately did not have a semi-naked dying man of similar proportions hanging from it, he went on to say that technical progress was not enough to “guarantee the moral welfare of society”.
No, it isn't, well spotted you old fool. However it doesn't follow from this that obeying the instructions of such a patently noxious organisation as the Catholic church will "guarantee the moral welfare of society", either. It would guarantee the material comfort of a clique of deluded men, of course, as well as guarantee the continued suffering of millions uopn millions of people around the world, and guarantee that said millions continue to beget yet more millions of unwanted children, amongst other things.
It also seems that the Church is smarting from it's continuing inability to reclaim property seized by the Government during the communist era, or to receive any compensation for these losses. Cardinal Vlk, the head of the Catholic church in the Czech republic, went on TV during the Pope's visit to complain that he had achieved 'practically nothing' in the twenty years since the velvet revolution. My heart bleeds, it really does.
So, atheists unite in wishing the people of the Czech republic the very best.