Times Wire Reports

Pope Benedict XVI said all of Europe, and not only this formerly communist country, must acknowledge its Christian heritage as it copes with rising immigration from other cultures and religions.

The second day of Benedict’s pilgrimage to this highly secular country was marked by an open-air Mass that drew an estimated 120,000 people to a field beside an airport in the southern city of Brno.

“History has demonstrated the absurdities to which man descends when he excludes God from the horizon of his choices and actions,” Benedict said.

The Czech Republic is one of the most secular countries in Europe. In 1991, 4.5 million of the country’s 10 million people said they belonged to a church, but a 2001 census showed the number had plunged to 3.3 million. Recent surveys suggest the number of believers remains low.