ROME — Pope Francis told reporters aboard the papal plane returning from Iraq he plans to visit Budapest in September to celebrate the closing Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress, Vatican News reported Tuesday.
On Monday, Budapest’s Catholic archbishop, Cardinal Peter Erdo, said that the pope was originally slated to attend the 2020 International Eucharistic Congress, an annual gathering taking place in cities around the world, but the event was canceled for health reasons.
“We are pleased to learn that the Holy Father has announced his decision to come to Budapest for the closing Mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress,” Cardinal Erdo said in a statement on behalf of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (HCBC).
“We hope that his visit will be a great encouragement and spiritual reinforcement for all of us and for the future participants of the Eucharistic Congress,” the statement said.
The International Eucharistic Congress is scheduled to take place in Budapest from September 5 to 12, 2021.
Pope Francis will travel to the Hungarian capital to celebrate the closing Mass of the multiday, Catholic gathering, the cardinal said.
“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,” Erdo said.
During the in-flight press conference Monday, Pope Francis also suggested that he may take advantage of the Hungary trip to visit neighboring Slovakia. “Budapest is a two-hour drive from Bratislava, why not make a visit to Slovakia?” he said.
The mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karacsony, wrote on Facebook Monday that it would be “a pleasure and an honor” for the city to receive a visit from Francis.
“Today we can perhaps learn the most from Pope Francis, and not only about faith and humanity. He expressed one of the most progressive programs in the areas of climate and environmental protection in his last encyclical,” Karacsony wrote.
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