Pope pays tribute to Havel
Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI paid homage on Friday to the "visionary leadership" of Velvet Revolution icon Vaclav Havel as world leaders and ordinary Czechs bade an emotional goodbye to the dissident playwright turned president.
"I remember how Mr Havel defended human rights courageously at a time when they were systematically refused to the people of your country," the pope said in a telegram to Czech President Vaclav Klaus on the day of Havel's funeral.
"I want to pay homage to his visionary leadership which allowed a new political reality to be forged following the fall of the preceding regime. I thank God for the freedom that the Czech people enjoy today," he added.
The nation on Friday came to a standstill in memory of Havel, who in 1989 led his nation through the bloodless revolution that toppled Soviet-backed communism in the then-Czechoslovakia.