A visit among peoples who "have suffered a regime repressive of faith and religious freedom". A journey of a spiritual nature to nations with political policies are far removed from the ideas of Francis, especially with regard to reception of migrants and refugees. In the Hungarian capital the closing of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, with the theme "All my springs are in You".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - A journey among peoples who "have suffered a repressive regime of faith and religious freedom", a visit of a spiritual nature "not to be confused with readings of another kind".
During the presentation of the 34th international journey of Pope Francis - who from tomorrow to Wednesday will visit Budapest and Slovakia - the director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni, tried to distance political visions from the presence of Francis in countries that are part of the "Visegrad group", proponents of policies that are far from the ideas of the Pope, especially in the field of reception of migrants and refugees, as well as of the European Community. It will be "a spiritual journey", which will begin in the sign of the Eucharist and will end in the National Shrine of Šaštín, dedicated 250 years ago to Our Lady to whom popular tradition attributes the title of "Our Lady of Seven Sorrows", patroness of Slovakia.
The journey takes in countries with a Catholic tradition, where bishops, priests and lay people were persecuted, imprisoned and killed under the Communist regime, but which nevertheless resisted in what was "the Church of silence", living amidst secret ordinations and police espionage. In both Hungary and Slovakia, meetings are also planned with Jewish groups that were severely affected in both countries by the Nazi persecution that reduced a community that numbered almost seven times as many people to about 20,000.
The first stop, tomorrow, will be in Budapest for the closing of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, with the theme "All my springs are in You". A visit to Budapest and not Hungary. The Pope will stay there for less than seven hours - from 7.45 am to 2.40 pm - and the central moment will be the celebration of the concluding Mass of the Congress. The programme also includes meetings with bishops, representatives of the Ecumenical Council of the Church and Jewish communities. He will also see the President of the Republic Janos Áder and Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the leader of those who are against Bergoglian vision of refugee reception. Significantly, he will meet them together and no speeches are planned.
The Eucharistic Congress is being held for the second time in Hungary. The first, in 1938, was vetoed by Hitler, who forbade German Catholics to participate. And it is taking place, underlined Msgr Csaba Ternyák, archbishop of Eger, during a process of Catholic cultural renewal, witnessed by the success of Catholic schools in the country.
Tomorrow afternoon, he will arrive in Bratislava, where he will be welcomed by the Head of State, Mrs Zuzana Čaputová and, after transferring to the nunciature, he will have an ecumenical meeting and the traditional one with the country's Jesuits.
On Monday 13, in Bratislava, there will be an official welcome and meetings with the authorities, the diplomatic corps and representatives of civil society in the garden of the Presidential Palace. This will be followed by meetings with bishops, priests, men and women religious, seminarians and catechists in St Martin's Cathedral. In the afternoon, he will visit the "Bethlehem Centre" of the Missionaries of Charity. Immediately afterwards, he will meet the Jewish community in Rybné námestie Square. The Neolog synagogue once stood there, demolished in 1969 by the communist government, along with the entire ghetto. Today there is a black wall with the image of the synagogue and a Shoah memorial in memory of the 105,000 Slovakian Jews killed.
In the evening, the president of the Parliament, Boris Kollár, and Prime Minister Eduard Heger will visit the nunciature.
Tuesday will be devoted to visits to Košice and Presov, where he will celebrate the Byzantine Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. In Košice he will visit the St Charles Borromeo Major Seminary, which now houses about fifty theology students.
In the afternoon, Francis will go to the Luník IX district, where the highest density of Roma population in Slovakia has been living in precarious conditions for about thirty years and where there is a Salesian mission. The last appointment will be in the Lokomotiva Stadium, where he will be awaited by young people, then he will return to Bratislava.
On Wednesday, the last day of the trip, the Pope will travel 71 kilometres to the National Shrine of Šaštín, dedicated to "Our Lady of Seven Sorrows", where he will celebrate Mass. At 1.30 p.m. the farewell ceremony at Bratislava airport with a landing at Ciampino around 3.30 p.m. This will mark the end of Francis' first trip after his colon surgery. But "special health measures" will not be observed, according to Matteo Bruni during the briefing. "The health and safety measures are already quite stringent. There is always a doctor and nurses on board, but there are no special measures." Asked if the nurse who, according to what the Pontiff himself said in an interview with Radio Cope, saved his life, will be present on board, Bruni replied that a nurses presence "is as usual".