Prague, Jan 30 (CTK) – Pope Francis has phoned seriously ill Czech Cardinal Miloslav Vlk and assured him that he will pray for his health, Vlk, 84, who announced his lung cancer diagnosis last week, has written on his website.

In a message in the voice mail of Vlk’s phone, the Pope greeted him, said he was praying for his health, hugged him warmly and wished God’s blessings to him.

Vlk phoned back to the Pope to thank him for his message.

Francis told him he knew that he was ill, which is why he called him by phone.

Once again he assured Vlk of being close to him and praying for him.

A week ago, Vlk announced that he suffers from lung cancer with bone metastases and will undergo chemotherapy.

His health troubles appeared last spring and he had to be hospitalised before Christmas. Doctors diagnosed him with cancer in early January. Now he is staying in home care.

Vlk was born on May 17, 1932. In 1968, he was ordained priest, but ten years later, the communist regime banned him from working as a priest. He started celebrating masses secretly for small groups of believers.

A historian, archivist and theologian by training, he was forced to earn his living as a window cleaner for political reasons in the 1980s.

In the early 1990s, he was appointed bishop of Ceske Budejovice, south Bohemia.

After the resignation of Frantisek Tomasek, he became the Czech Catholic primate in 1991.

He was appointed cardinal in October 1994.

On June 1, 1991, Vlk became archbishop of Prague. Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation in February 2010 when he also appointed his successor, Dominik Duka.