The Philippine Catholic Church will hold a virtual congress on the Eucharist in “solidarity” with the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Hungary’s capital of Budapest next month.
Fr. Miguel Garcia, executive secretary of the bishops’ Permanent Committee on International Eucharistic Congresses (PCIEC), said the local event will be hosted by the Sta. Cruz Church in Manila on Sept. 11.
“Sta. Cruz Church will be the center of the activity but all the talks will be pre-recorded and will be broadcast online,” Garcia said.
Among the speakers include Bishop Dennis Villarojo of Malolos, who served as secretary-general of the 51st IEC in the city of Cebu.
The priest from the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament said that preparations are still ongoing and final details will be announced in the coming weeks.
The IEC in Budapest will start on Sept. 5, with Pope Francis scheduled to lead the closing Mass on Sept. 12.
The major religious gathering was originally set for September 2020 but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The PCIEC had previously planned to send at least 500 delegates to Budapest, but was shelved because of the prevailing health crisis.
The target number of participants was aimed to highlight the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.
“Unfortunately, we have to cancel the plan because of our situation,” Garcia added.
But he said that Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, the current chairman of PCIEC, is planning to attend the global event.
According to him, it has been a tradition that one of the Masses during the one-week celebration is presided by the bishop of the previous host of the IEC.
“He (Palma) is trying his best but I’m still waiting for any development,” he said.
The IEC first took place in France in 1881 with the goal of increasing devotion to the Eucharist.
It has continued to be held once every four years in a different city across the globe, taking place in Jerusalem, Nairobi, Melbourne, Korea, the U.S., and throughout Europe.
The last congress was held in Cebu in 2016, with more than 12,000 registered delegates, though more than a million people took part in the closing Mass.
It will be Hungary’s second time to host the IEC, with the first one also held in Budapest in 1938.