Why does it inspire respect and admiration even among people allergic to everything Christian? Anyone who watched the television news of the two largest Slovak commercial television stations last night found out a surprising thing. Both TV JOJ and Markíza sent their editors to Rome to watch, record and comment on the last farewell to Cardinal Tomko in the Vatican. I also looked at the pages of two “red” journals. SME brought eight texts about the death of Cardinal Tomek. Some also have titles like this: “The Slovak cardinal who launched the careers of two popes” or “Thanks and recognition.” Politicians react to the death of Cardinal Tomek”. Denník N also published a text by František Miklošek about how Cardinal Tomko intervened in world history. President Čaputová, but also Prime Minister Heger, politicians from the coalition, but also Robert Fico and Peter Pellegrini spoke publicly about the fact that an exceptional person was leaving. As if the country could rarely come together, forget the disputes and acknowledge: we have lost a great person of whom we can be proud. Regardless of whether we are believers, non-believers, Catholics, non-Catholics, liberals or conservatives. This is not at all small at this time, when society is divided on various issues: to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, Ukraine or Russia, Matovič or Sulík, Lipšić or Žilinka, Fico or Pellegrini, who said that “people like him, uniting a nation that he is divorced and quarrelsome today, they will be missed”. As if he was recognized even by those who are already allergic to everything connected with the Catholic Church. Share Suddenly there is a person, his story, personality, charisma, attitudes that – it seems – the majority of society can appreciate. It’s almost healing in a way. For everyone. And for Christians, it is also in some ways very motivating. There is a man who has managed to gain general respect and esteem, although he is a cleric, a man firmly tied to the Catholic Church, to the Vatican. But its meaning can be appreciated without any problem even by those who do not belong to the Catholic Church or to believers. Even those who are already allergic to everything associated with the Catholic Church or religion seem to recognize him naturally. Of course, František Mikloško is right when he writes that Cardinal Tomko is the last representative of the “great” generation of priests who went abroad after the end of the Second World War. “These young priests found themselves abroad without financial means, without acquaintances, and in addition, in a political atmosphere when Slovakia was not perceived positively in foreign politics. With their talent and perseverance, they left behind an admirable work,” Mikloško reminded the readers of Denník N. On the one hand, as if to tell us that this is already the past, the last of a great generation left. There won’t be any more like that. But at the same time, it is good to ask the question: how is it possible that a cardinal who lived outside of Slovakia for more than 70 years enjoyed general respect here? Tomko was a noble, respectful person, but at the same time natural and kind. Share Was it just because he became an influential cardinal? So he had an excellent career? Or only by the fact that he significantly helped the weakening of communist power in the Vatican? But even that would not quite describe his general popularity and natural respect. Although many high-ranking Vatican officials have influence, they seem withdrawn, reserved, perhaps even cold. However, Tomko was a noble, respectful person, but at the same time very natural and kind. His stays in Udava, where he turned into a warm-hearted villager without any problems, remained in the memory here. That was an extraordinary personality combination. Jozef Tomko could serve as an example not only for priests, but also for Christian politicians. After all, Tomko was a person in the Vatican who also performed very practical tasks and shaped the “politics” of the Vatican. Memorials mention his “discretion, inconspicuousness”, in the archives of the State Security you can even find such a characteristic: “He allegedly belongs to the so-called a progressive group in the Vatican apparatus, but he also knows how to deal with representatives of conservatives skillfully. Overall, his essential character trait should be great adaptability. He chooses his connections very carefully and especially among persons who have a certain position and influence.” So he was a politically dexterous, adaptable, discreet, unobtrusive person, but with a clear vision and strong influence. His nobility was not aristocratic, it was rather the nobility of a village boy who got to know the world and was able to establish himself in it. He won the recognition of popes and ordinary people. This is something we kind of expect from Christian or conservative politicians. Noblesse, discretion, dexterity, generosity, but also kindness, modesty and humility. And if I’m being a bit politically incorrect, also such masculinity, which does not lie only in his imposing figure, direct gaze and strong gestures. They acquired many of their virtues themselves by building their personality. Share If Slovak politics, and thus the whole society, suffers from something today, it is human immaturity or personality deficits of key figures. That feeling when you look at the press and see a politician full of mischievousness or childish ranting, putting down others, primitive slander – and it’s humanly embarrassing. Tomko has something like Štefánik in him. They are people who came from simple circumstances and made their way to the top thanks to their intelligence, character and strong personality. However, they did not automatically receive everything in their genetic makeup. They acquired many of their virtues or strengths themselves by systematically building their personality. It is also somewhat symbolic that at this time we are saying goodbye to Cardinal Tomko and we can talk about his personality, significance, influence. As if right now we need to hear and perceive the story of a person who has made it this far in his career, and at the same time has maintained general respect, respect and admiration in Slovak society.
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