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Hungary enthusiastically inaugurates Eucharistic Congress in Budapest

The International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest is finally underway... and it's quite the celebration. Three hundred dancers dressed in traditional Hungarian outfits participated in the opening ceremony

Tradition and faith came together on the same stage where Pope Francis will celebrate the closing Mass on Sunday.

The Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See explained that there was a lot of excitement in Budapest in the days leading up to the Congress.

Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See
“For Hungarians I think this Eucharistic Congress in itself is a sign of hope. It's a sign, as Cardinal Erdő said, that brings new life and a renewed faith. And I think Hungarians are very happy.”

Before the Congress began, this lunch was organized for about 5,000 poor people. At the opening Mass, 1,200 children received their first communion.

There are a number of events planned for the week: conferences, religious concerts and the first Mass in Lovari, the language spoken by Hungary's Roma community. Congress organizers say participants will include people from 80 countries.

Hero's Square, where the inauguration took place, hosted another International Eucharistic Congress in 1938. On that occasion, the Pope did not attend, but was represented by a pontifical delegate. It was Eugenio Pacelli, who would later become Pope Pius XII.

The ambassador shares that while going through photographs from that event, he was able to identify a parish priest, Fr. Joszef Mindszenty.

Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See
“He later became the famous Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary. The Nazis put him in prison first. Then the Soviets. He isn't just a national hero. Pope Francis declared him venerable in 2019. And seeing him in the same square, as a humble priest hearing confessions, in the same place where the Pope will be Sunday. I think it's a sign of the continuity of faith in Hungary.”

The ambassador also spoke about the Pope's scheduled meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán. He knows both of them and hopes they will have a fruitful, if brief, discussion prior to the Mass.

Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See
“It's important to note that their meeting will not be held behind closed doors, but in an open space in Budapest's Museum of Fine Arts. It will be a cordial meeting, and I expect that they will understand each other well. I know that the Pope appreciates people with clear ideas.”

The International Eucharistic Congress has mobilized the entire country, where more than 37% of people are Catholic. It's the 52nd edition of the Congress and will be the fourth attended by a pope.

Javier Romero