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Letter from Rome: Is Budapest worth only a Mass?

Pope Francis' curious seven-hour ‘layover’ in the capital of Hungary en route to neighboring Slovakia for a three-day visit

Letter from Rome: Is Budapest worth only a Mass?

Hungarian capital Budapest (Photo: Wikipedia)

There was something odd about the way Pope Francis pre-empted the official announcement of his Sept. 12 visit to Budapest.

During his flight back from Iraq in early March, he told journalists he was planning to go to the Hungarian capital to preside at the closing Mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress.

"It is not a visit to the country," he emphasized, "but for that Mass."

What was so odd is that, unlike World Youth Day, popes don't usually make it a priority to attend the final Mass of Eucharistic congresses.

John Paul II, of course, was the exception. He made a point of presiding at everything.

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