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Rome event to highlight Lidice tragedy, child suffering

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Prague/The Vatican, April 6 (CTK) – Rome will host an international conference in remembrance of Lidice, a Czech village obliterated by the Nazis 75 years ago, which is to highlight the trauma of local children and the suffering of children in wars and on the run, Pavel Vosalik has told CTK.

Vosalik is the Czech ambassador to the Vatican and also to the Order of Malta, which is preparing the conference due on June 1.

Simultaneously, Czech pilgrims will visit Rome in late May and early June to present Pope Francis with the Madonna of Lidice, a painting by Czech artist Zdirad Cech.

The pilgrimage will also commemorate Czech Cardinal Miloslav Vlk who died on March 18.

The pilgrims will hand over the painting to the Pope at a general audience on May 31. They will acquaint him with the history of Lidice, which the Nazis razed to the ground in June 1942 in retaliation for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi deputy Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, by Czechoslovak paratroopers trained in Britain.

All Lidice men were shot dead on the spot. The women and a part of the children were sent to concentration camps where most of them died, and some children were sent to Germany for upbringing.

The surviving children, now at an advanced age, have suffered from a lifelong trauma.

Vosalik said Pope Francis cares for children’s fates. “The Holy See is definitely aware of the issue we are going to present,” Vosalik said.

Some time ago, Czech President Milos Zeman invited the Pope to visit the Czech Republic on the Lidice tragedy anniversary.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka repeated the invitation recently.

Some say the invitation came too late and that the Pope’s schedule is too busy to squeeze the visit in. Vosalik, nevertheless, did not rule out the Pope’s arrival, saying the Holy See has not declined the invitation yet.

However, he said he is sceptical about Francis’s arrival in June.

The several-day pilgrimage to Rome will also include a Mass in Santa Croce di Gerusalemme, the titular basilica of the late Miloslav Vlk. It is to be attended by Pietro Parolin, the Vatican general secretary.

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