Slovenian President Borut Pahor will visit the Vatican

Slovenian President Borut Pahor will visit the Vatican today by invitation of Pope Francis. Today’s visit marks 30 years of

Slovenian President Borut Pahor will visit the Vatican today. Photo: Maurizio Brambatti Bt/EPA

Slovenian President Borut Pahor will visit the Vatican today by invitation of Pope Francis.

Today’s visit marks 30 years of diplomatic relations between Slovenia and the Holy See. The Vatican recognized Slovenian independence in January 1992, only six months after the brief conflict triggered by Slovenia’s breakaway from Yugoslavia–known as the Ten-Day War–ended through an agreement sponsored by the European Community.

In Yugoslavia, religion was closely tied to ethnic identity and nationalism. Croatia and Slovenia’s Catholic heritage played critical roles in helping to justify their break from Orthodox-dominated Yugoslavia, regardless of the communist country’s anti-religious ideology. Ahead of today’s visit, President Pahor’s office called papal support for independence indispensable in establishing Slovenia as a sovereign country.

President Pahor’s Vatican visit represents the continued importance of religion in European national identity, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Although only 57.8% of Slovenians identified as Catholic as of 2002, in the last census in which the Slovenian government asked about religious affiliation, Catholicism continues to contribute to the country’s historical self-understanding. On the 30th anniversary of relations, expect the visit’s discussions to reflect modern Slovenia—appreciative of its Catholic historical identity while being conscious of the declining religious trend across Europe.

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