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".