Pope Francis to visit Hungary in September, cardinal says

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Pope Francis speaks to journalists, Monday, March 8, 2021, while flying back to The Vatican at the end of his four-day trip to Iraq where he met with different Christian communities and Shiite revered cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. (AP Photo/Yara Nardi, pool)

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Pope Francis will travel to Hungary’s capital in September where he will participate in the closing Mass of a multiday, international Catholic gathering, according to the cardinal of Hungary’s Roman Catholic Church.

The Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest Peter Erdo told Hungarian news agency MTI on Monday that Francis was originally scheduled to appear at the 2020 International Eucharistic Congress, an annual gathering of Catholic clergy and laypeople, but it was canceled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Francis will instead visit on the final day of the eight-day 52nd Congress in Budapest on Sept. 12, he 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.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Budapest’s liberal mayor Gergely Karacsony said it was “a pleasure and an honor” that the city would 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 encyclic,” Karacsony wrote.

Traveling back to the Vatican from a trip to Iraq on Monday, the pope told Italian media that following his visit to Budapest he may visit Bratislava, the capital of neighboring Slovakia. While that visit isn’t confirmed, Slovakia’s president, Zuzana Caputova, said she had invited the pontiff to visit during a meeting in the Vatican in December.

“I am looking forward to welcoming the Holy Father in Slovakia. His visit will be a symbol of hope, which we need so much now,” Caputova said Monday.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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