published: 28.09.2012, 16:04 | updated: 28.09.2012 16:09:56
Brandys nad Labem-Stara Boleslav - Czech President Vaclav Klaus called for a loud defence of traditional values in his speech at the National St Wenceslas Pilgrimage in Stara Boleslav today.
The pilgrimage is held annually in the town where Wenceslas, a prince from the ruling Premyslid dynasty and a patron saint of Bohemia, was murdered on September 28, 935.
The day is a national holiday in the Czech Republic.
The mass was celebrated by Olomouc Archbishop Jan Graubner today. Apart from church dignitaries, the event was attended by Czech politicians and military representatives.
Klaus promoted traditional values in his speech at last year´s St Wenceslas pilgrimage already, but today he said that nothing has changed since.
"We can still see everyday attacks by progress seekers of all kinds on the well-proven values and virtues that have been formed in our society for long. The traditional old good system of values has been disintegrating," Klaus said.
Europe is sinking deeper and deeper in the economic, political and social crisis, he added.
"By its extent, restriction of civil rights and freedoms is developing into an attack on the very essence of the democratic establishment," Klaus said.
He said he considers it necessary for Czechs to stand up far more loudly and intensively than now in defence of the joint traditions, spiritual and moral dimensions of their national existence.
"We should be always ourselves. We should know what we want, what is good for us, what corresponds to our vital national interests. This is the only way for us not to become a weathercock pushed by the interests of others," said Klaus, whose second and final possible presidential term expires next March.
Several thousands of people attended the pilgrimage today, including a number of expatriates. Neverhteless, the attendance definitely did not break the record 50,000 from 2009, when the event was visited by Pope Benedict XVI.
Today´s visitors included some of the candidates for Czech president.
"For me it is mainly a return to the roots, to Czech history, its development, its foundations...and to all who have contributed to it. On this day we also remind us of our big awareness of our responsibility," former prime minister Jan Fischer, the favourite among the presidential candidates, told CTK.
St Wenceslas´s relics have been displayed in the St Wenceslas basilica in Stara Boleslav. Apart from the spiritual programme, the pilgrimage offers concerts and entertainment attractions.
Before Klaus gave his speech, a banner with his portrait and the inscription "St Vaclav Klaus" appeared above the crowd´s heads (Wenceslas is Vaclav in Czech). It was unfolded by a few Catholic critics of Klaus, who, in a mock campaign, call for Klaus´s canonisation.
"We mind that a politician like Vaclav Klaus has been regularly invited to church celebrations. We consider him too a controversial politician who is to blame for many bad things and whose positions have often been at odds with Christian values," Vaclav Nemec, one of Klaus´s critics from the Prague Forum group, told CTK.
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