Presentation of the Pope’s Trip to Budapest and Slovakia
(C) Vatican media
Matteo Bruni, Director of the Holy See Press Office, presented today Pope Francis’ 34th international pilgrimage. He will on Sunday will go to Budapest for the closing of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress and, subsequently, to Slovakia, thus touching 54 countries of the world. Bruni described the trip, saying: “it will be a journey of a spiritual nature, a pilgrimage characterized by Eucharistic Adoration and devotion to Our Lady, who has watched over the pain of these peoples,” marked by the religious persecution of the Communist regime. On September 15, in fact, the Pope will go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Previous Papal Trips
Saint John Paul II went twice to Hungary and three times to Slovakia, the first when it was still federated with the Czech Republic. “The desire at the time was to give a clear sign, in a Christian key, in the reconstruction after the dictatorship. To remember the suffering but projected to the future. The context is clearly different now, but those are the people and the lands,” said Bruni.
Meeting with Orban
Bruni stressed several times the “Pope’s desire to be present at the Eucharistic Congress, a circumstance not very frequented by Pontiffs. And in this framework, he invited not to give too much weight to “elements that can misrepresent the” purely spiritual “nature” of the trip. In fact, there were many controversies after the meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Orban was put in doubt, who has always been opposed to the reception of migrants, but Hungarian sources have now confirmed the meeting. Another source of controversy was the brief time that the Holy Father will be in Hungary, but Bruni also confirmed that the reason for the trip to Budapest is exclusively the Eucharistic Congress.
In Slovakia, in addition to other meetings programmed, it’s not excluded that the Pope will see Cardinal Tomko, now over a hundred years old. Other topics of the trip are evangelization — at the center of the meeting with young people –, ecumenism, and inter-religious dialogue. Bruni referred to the Holy Father’s address on May 11, 2018, on the occasion of the audience with Metropolitan Rastislav, after Cardinal Koch’s trip: “Three themes of that address: martyrdom and sanctity, evangelization and culture, Cyril and Methodius — Precursors of ecumenism. It’s easy to imagine that these will be the arguments present in the meetings in Slovakia.
Meetings with the Jewish Communities
Other important topics of the trip are Europe and the Jewish communities. “It’s a trip in the heart of Europe and arguments will surely be touched upon that concern the whole Continent,” said Bruni. It’s also easy to think of migrations. Foreseen, then, are meetings with the Jewish communities, which are a historical presence in those lands and suffered the inhuman cruelty of the Shoah. Among other things, the trip is taking place between the Jewish New Year and the feast of Yom Kippur, a very significant coincidence.
The Pope will give altogether 12 addresses: three in Budapest and nine in Slovakia. Foreseen for the trip are the usual health measures, usually quite stringent, with a doctor and nurses onboard; however, no particular precautions have been adopted after last July’s surgical intervention.