Budapest Prepares for Imminent Visit from Pope Francis

Budapest Prepares for Imminent Visit from Pope Francis

ROME, Italy — The Hungarian capital of Budapest is eagerly preparing for next Sunday’s visit of Pope Francis according to the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Péter Erdő.

“It will be a great sign of hope, after a year and a half of pandemic,” Cardinal Erdő told Vatican News on Saturday. “A sign of openness, of rebirth, and also a sign that divine providence does not leave us alone.”

“It will therefore be a joyful event,” the cardinal said.

Last March, Pope Francis told reporters aboard the papal plane returning from his trip to Iraq that he planned to visit Budapest in September to celebrate the closing Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress. He will also spend several days in Slovakia.

The pontiff was originally scheduled to attend the International Eucharistic Congress in 2020, an annual gathering taking place in cities around the world, but the event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The trip was officially announced on July 4, the very day that the pope was admitted to the hospital for colon surgery, where he stayed for ten days. At the time Vatican watchers expressed concerns that the surgery might complicate the pope’s travel plans, but this appears not to be the case.

In February 2020, Hungarian President János Áder visited the Vatican to commemorate 100 years of diplomatic relations between Hungary and the Holy See, at which time he extended an invitation to the pope to take part in the 2021 International Eucharistic Congress.

Slovakia and Hungary, along with the other central European nations of Poland and the Czech Republic, have been steadfast ideological allies of the Catholic Church on a number of key moral and political issues involving the family, education, gender theory, and respect for human life at all its stages.

Hungary has stood out in particular for its vigorous defense of persecuted Christians and its novel approach of providing aid for them to remain in their homelands rather than emigrate.

In 2016, the Hungarian government established a Deputy State Secretariat for the Aid of Persecuted Christians, making it the only nation in the world with a department of this sort.

The 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, which begins Monday in Budapest, will bring together representatives of all the world’s Catholic Churches, including those from countries in conflict.

The Congress will be officially concluded by Pope Francis with a Mass celebrated in Heroes’ Square in the Hungarian capital. Following the Mass, the Pope will travel to Slovakia.

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Thomas D. Williams Ph.D.