Saturday, December 24, 2011

Vaclav Havel RIP

Dagmar Havlova, the widow of Vaclev Havel, mourns in procession
Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram of condolence to the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, on the death this past Sunday of former president Vaclav Havel, whose funeral was celebrated this morning (Friday)  in the Cathedral of St Vitus at Prague Castle. President Havel was 75 years old.  In the text, the Pope expressed his nearness to those attending the funeral, joining them in "commending the soul of the deceased to the infinite mercy of our heavenly Father" and recalling Vaclav Havel's courage in the defence of "human rights at a time when these were systematically denied to the people of your country". He paid tribute to his "visionary leadership in forging a new democratic policy after the fall of the previous regime" and gave thanks to God "for the freedom that the people of the Czech Republic now enjoy".  The Holy Father concluded by imparting the Apostolic Blessing as "a pledge of spiritual strength and comfort" to all those mourning the deceased, "in hope of resurrection to new life".

Havel was an artist at heart but it would appear his muse was justice. He was a self-admitted non-practicing Catholic but had the respect of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Havel would even admit that he was compelled to go to confession when meeting John Paul II and did so: "I suddenly realized I was in fact confessing in front of him, even though I'm not accustomed to going to confession, since I'm not a practicing Catholic. I felt the need because of the great will to understand the other person that emanates from the person of the pope".