Updated: July 05, 2021 10:50 AM GMT
Pope Francis delivers the Sunday Angelus prayer from the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on July 4. (Photo: AFP)
Pope Francis has announced that he plans to visit Slovakia after attending the international Eucharist Congress in Hungary in September.
“I am pleased to announce that from 12 to 15 September next, God willing, I will go to Slovakia to make a pastoral visit,” Pope Francis said in his Sunday Angelus on July 4.
Visitors and pilgrims from Slovakia present in St. Peter’s Square responded to the announcement with cheers.
The pope noted their presence and said: “The Slovaks are happy there.”
“I sincerely thank all those who are preparing this journey and I pray for them,” he said. “Let’s all pray for this trip and for the people who are working to organize it.”
The pope's four-day visit to Hungary and Slovakia from Sept. 12 has been welcomed by Slovakia's president.
Preparations are underway in Hungary for the congress, which was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic
"I believe that the presence of Pope Francis will be for all of us a message of reconciliation and hope in these difficult times,” Zuzana Caputova was reported as saying by Vatican News on July 4.
Slovakia's foreign minister, Ivan Korcok, described the trip as a “great honor for Slovakia."
In Hungarian capital Budapest on Sept. 12, the pope will participate in the concluding Mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress.
He will then travel to the Slovakian cities of Bratislava, Presov, Kosice and Sastin.
St. Pope John Paul II attended the International Eucharistic Congress in Rome in 2000.
Preparations are underway in Hungary for the congress, which was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With Hungary reopening slowly, the Sept. 12 closing Mass will be held at Budapest's majestic Heroes Square.
Hungarian Bishop Gabor Mohos, who heads the congress secretariat, said: "We did not give up hope despite the ongoing pandemic."
The bishop, who himself recovered from Covid-19, added in an interview with Vatican News: "And we are happy to organize offline in person again."
According to the head of Hungary's Catholic Church, Cardinal Peter Erdo, the congress is "a symbol of life after the coronavirus pandemic.”
Scheduled speakers include Asian cardinals Oswald Gracias and Charles Maung Bo
The 52nd congress will open with a 1,000-strong choir and a large number of First Communions.
Scheduled speakers include two Asian cardinals — India's Oswald Gracias and Myanmar's Charles Maung Bo — retired Vatican Cardinal Robert Sarah and Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako.
Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, Philippines, is also expected to attend.
The congress, which will start on Sept. 5, will be attended by other church leaders and religious representatives, including Greek and Eastern Catholic bishops as well as Orthodox and Protestant guests and representatives of the Jewish community.
Hungary has a population of 9.8 million, 62 percent of whom are Catholics.
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