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Contrary to previous reports, Pope Francis could meet with Hungarian leaders in September

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Budapest, Hungary – Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with Hungary’s political leaders, including President Janos Ader and Prime Minister Viktor Orban, during his planned visit in September, according to the Hungarian Catholic Episcopal Conference.

In a statement published on Wednesday, the Hungarian Catholic Episcopal Conference said it found “unfortunate that false information and misinterpretations regarding the Holy Father’s program in Hungary, which is still being organised, have spread in national and international media.”

“For instance, the rumour that the Holy Father would have excluded anyone from his program is untrue,” it continued.

The statement comes amid speculation regarding the Pope’s planned visit to Budapest on September 12, where he’s scheduled to lead the closing mass of the International Eucharistic Congress.

Citing sources in Budapest and the Vatican, the National Catholic Register last week speculated the Pope was not willing to meet with Hungarian President Janos Ader and Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and would only stay a few hours in Budapest before leaving for Slovakia.

Several sources had described the decision, if confirmed, as “outrageous”, “unacceptable”, and “a gigantic slap in the face of Prime Minister Orban”.

Denying these claims, the Hungarian Catholic Episcopal Conference said that Pope Francis will meet with President Ader and PM Orban, as well as other members of government and senior state officials before the mass.

For a pope to visit a foreign country’s capital city without meeting its state representatives would have been “unprecedented”, highlighted the National Catholic Register, suggesting the Holy Father’s reluctance to meet with Ader or Orban was linked to his disapproval of the Hungarian government’s treatment of refugees and asylum policy.

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