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Bishops respond with shock, prayer after Slovak prime minister shot multiple times

Catholic bishops have expressed shock and promised prayers as Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico fights for his life after being shot multiple times May 15.

Fico was attacked while leaving a government gathering in the central town of Handlova, Slovakia, located some 125 miles east of the nation's capital, Bratislava.

According to media reports, Fico sustained critical injuries to his abdomen, arm and leg. He was airlifted to the hospital and transferred again by air to a second facility.

Police have detained an unnamed 71-year-old suspect, whose motive is not yet known.

"We condemn this act of violence, we pray for the recovery of Prime Minister Robert Fico and we invite everyone to unite in prayer for this purpose," said Slovakia's Greek Catholic bishops in a May 15 statement. "Such (an) injustice and attack on a public official is absolutely unacceptable from a human and Christian point of view and points to our inability to respect different opinions and conduct dialogue in a civilized manner."

Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensk√Ĺ of the Latin Catholic Archdiocese of Bratislava said in a May 15 statement posted to the archdiocese's Facebook page that he would pray for Fico's "salvation (from death) and healing."

The archbishop announced that on Pentecost (May 19), "the feast of the sending of the Holy Spirit," he planned to celebrate Mass during the national spring pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows in the town of Sastin, and would offer the liturgy "for peace in Slovakia, so that we can open ourselves to the action of God's Holy Spirit and mutual respect through the intercession of our Patroness of the Seven Sorrows."

Speaking on the sidelines of a May 15 event at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said, "We are really worried about what is happening; it now seems there is no longer any limit" to the rise in violence.

"Naturally all this increases violence," he said. "Relations are ever more violent and there are fewer hopes of building serene and peaceful relations."