Budapest, Hungary – Pope Francis is set to visit Hungary in September this year to lead the closing Mass of an international Catholic gathering, the cardinal of Hungary’s Roman Catholic Church told the local MTI news agency on Monday.
Pope Francis in Budapest: “A pleasure and an honour”
After the 2020 International Eucharistic Congress was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis is due to travel to Hungary this year to attend the final day of the 52nd annual Congress.
The closing Mass will take place on September 12, in Budapest’s Heroes’ Square.
“The visit of the Holy Father is a great joy for the archdiocese and the entire episcopal conference, and it can give us all comfort and hope in these difficult times,” the Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest Peter Erdo said.
The visit of Francis has been described as “a pleasure and a honour” by Budapest mayor Gergely Karacsony.
During an-flight press conference on the way back from a historic three-day visit to Iraq, Pope Francis confirmed the plans to travel to Hungary, and revealed he could also visit Bratislava in neighbouring Slovakia afterwards – although this has yet to be officially confirmed.
Pastoral visit to Slovakia also on the table
“Budapest is a two-hour drive from Bratislava, why not make a visit to Slovakia?” the pontiff told reporters.
“I am looking forward to welcoming the Holy Father in Slovakia,” reacted President Zuzana Caputova, who met with Francis at the Vatican last December and invited the pontiff to Slovakia. “His visit will be a symbol of hope, which we need so much now.”
Pope Francis, 84, is known for keeping a busy travel schedule, visiting more than 50 different countries in seven years, including other states from Central and Eastern Europe like Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic countries.
The last time a pope visited Slovakia dates back to 2003, when an already ailing John-Paul II embarked on a four-day tour of the Central European country – his third in just over a decade. Polish-born John-Paul II also came to Hungary in 1996, the last pastoral visit in the country in twenty five years.