Wednesday, January 26

Pope Francis begins his four-day tour of Hungary and Slovakia

Pope Francis arrived in Budapest, where he celebrates this Sunday the closing mass of the International Eucharistic Congress and will meet with the leaders of the Central European country, and then continue his visit of three days to Slovakia.

As the Vatican has pointed out, It is not an official trip to Hungary but a “spiritual visit” on the occasion of the closing of the International Eucharistic Congress, which was held in the Hungarian capital.

The pope arrived in Budapest at 5.45 GMT and is scheduled to meet at the Museum of Fine Arts with the Hungarian president, János Áder, and the prime minister, Viktor Orbán. The Vatican Secretary of State will also be present at the meetings, Pietro Parolin.

After that half-hour meeting, Francisco will meet with the bishops of Hungary and then with the representatives of the Ecumenical Council of Churches and of some Jewish communities in Hungary.

At 9.30 GMT it is scheduled to Pope Francis celebrate a mass in Heroes Square before a crowd that can reach 100,000 people.

After the mass and the Angel of God prayer, The pope will go to the Budapest airport where, after a brief farewell ceremony, he will travel to the Slovak capital, Bratislava.

This trip will be the first after his colon operation last July. and his first day will be especially intense, almost 13 hours without a break, one of the longest of all his international trips.

Outbreaks of hatred and anti-Semitism in Europe

The Pope warned of outbreaks of hatred and anti-Semitism arising in Europe and other places in the meeting he held with Christian and Jewish leaders in his first act of the visit to Budapest, where he will only stay seven hours to officiate the closing mass of the Ecumenical Congress.

Francis met with the representatives of the Christians, who suppose the 52% of the population and of which 30 percent are Catholic, and with the Jewish community, heavily decimated during the Nazi invasion and of which between 10,000 and 15,000 members remain throughout the country.

In this act, the pope appreciated that the different confessions present in the country, among which are Lutherans and Calvinists, “have come together to tear down the walls of separation of the past.”

“You, Jews and Christians, wish to see in the other no longer a stranger, but a friend; no longer an adversary, but a brother”, He pointed out and added that God asks them to leave “behind the misunderstandings of the past, the pretensions of being right and blaming others, to put us on the path towards his promise of peace.”

And he urged that this union be strong in the face of the temptation to “absorb the other”, because when it has been tried “it has not been built, it has been destroyed” and “the same when it has been tried to marginalize it in a ghetto, instead of integrating it.”

“How many times has this happened in history! We must be vigilant and pray that it is not repeated. And commit ourselves to promote together an education for fraternity, so that the outbreaks of hatred that want to destroy it do not prevail. I think of the threat of anti-Semitism, which still creeps in Europe and elsewhere, “he warned.

He considered that it is “a fuse that must be extinguished and the best way to deactivate it is to work positively together, it is to promote fraternity.” He asked the representatives of the religions to unite to be an example and so that no one “can say that words of division come from the lips of men of God, but only messages of openness and peace”

“In a world torn apart by too many conflicts, this is the best testimony that those who have received the grace to know the God of the covenant and of peace can offer”, added.

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