On his return flight from Iraq, Pope Francis publicized his decision to attend the closing Mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress. What an unexpected announcement it was, although we have always hoped to see him in Budapest! – said Kornél Fábry in an interview with HírTV. The IEC Secretary General recalled that in fact, the Holy Father was originally scheduled to appear at the Closing Mass of the 2020 World Event, but the pandemic intervened and swept away the Congress, which thereby has been postponed by a year.
Pope Francis: Now I will have to go to Hungary
Regrettably, many misunderstood or misinterpreted the Pontiff’s words – said Kornél Fábry, referring to the numerous negative comments that had been posted on social media. “Now I will have to go to Hungary for the final Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress. The visit would not include a tour of the country itself, but only to participate in the Mass.”- said the Holy Father in relation to his Budapest visit.
Pope Francis had already been invited for the Congress itself by both Cardinal Péter Erdő and János Áder, Hungary’s President and Chief Patron of the International Eucharistic Congress, with an emphasis on the concluding event that of- said the IEC Secretary General. The Holy Father has accepted the invitation for this latter one. As Kornél Fábry explained, this visit is not alike to the one made by Pope John Paul II, whose Apostolic Visit covered touring around several cities of Hungary. Pope Francis has received an invitation explicitly to the Congress, and he would be the main celebrant of the ceremonial Closing Mass.
The IEC Secretary General was talking about the Congress preparatory works, and the hope to organise a real in-person World Event. Goes without saying that there is also a “B” scenario, should the pandemic situation force the Congress to move online. The organisers expect a great joyous feast in September with the Holy Father’s personal participation. According to tradition, if a Pope himself is unable to attend the Eucharistic Congress, usually a Papal Legate represents the Holy See.
The papal visit is a great honour
It is of particular significance that Pope Francis plans to attend the closing ceremony of the Budapest World Event in-person. It’s a rarity that a Pope personally participates in such an event, and no presence of this kind has happened since John Paul II’s personal appearance at the Rome International Eucharistic Congress of 2000. Thereafter, faithful of the World Events were greeted by the Heads of the Catholic Church in video messages. So it was at the last IEC, hosted by the city of Cebu (Philippines) – recalled Kornél Fábry the then events. There, in Cebu had the Holy Father announced in his video message that Budapest, Hungary was to be the host of the next IEC, scheduled for 2020. The Pontiff’s visit is an extremely great honour for us – noted the IEC Secretary General, adding that the ceremonial closing Mass, the Statio Orbis would take place on September 12 in Budapest’s Heroes’ Square. This is a tradition of ours – said Kornél Fábry, since the last time when Hungary had the honour to organise the Eucharistic World Congress in 1938, the main events that of were held also here on this very same square.
The IEC organisers are in an ongoing contact with the Operative Board of Hungary that is responsible for commenting on the preventive measures against Covid in Hungary, so to be in line with the actual steps to be taken for the event preparation. The IEC staff is alerted and fully ready for each and every possible situation that might occur.
The Pontiff likes the Hungarians
Hungary had always occupied a special place in Pope John Paul II’s heart. Pope Francis is also tied to Hungary in many ways. For example –as Kornél Fábry unveiled – a Hungarian Father, Ervin Lengyel, serves as Secretary of the Nunciature in Baghdad, Iraq. He was the one the Holy Father called by phone, then greeted with an “Isten hozott!” (“Welcome” in Hungarian). The Pontiff likes the Hungarians. In 2020, when the pandemic situation forced the Congress to move online with its pre-meeting, Pope Francis sent us a message. Following the usual Sunday Angelus prayer he extended his greetings to Hungary, the pastors, and the faithful of Hungary and to all of those who were expecting with faith and joy the ecclesial event, namely the Budapest International Eucharistic Congress. In his then message the Holy Father asked us: “Spiritually united, we are following this journey of preparation, finding in the Eucharist the source of the Church’s life and mission.”
Faithful are preparing themselves with a prayerful attitude to the event – noted Kornél Fábry, reflecting to the importance of the spiritual preparation. Many interesting information is available on the IEC’s website, including programs, lectures to be given and the guest speakers who have already accepted the invitation. The IEC Secretary General hopes that the Congress will be a joyful gathering, moreover, it will turn into a thanksgiving ceremony that by then we will be over the pandemic.
The Eucharist binds us
Some years ago there were puzzled articles on the invitation catchphrase: “Meet Jesus in Budapest!” Kornél Fábry spoke about the very common phenomenon he often experienced: “only two words are incomprehensible and confusing from the expression ‘Eucharistic Congress’, first the Eucharist, second the Congress.” The Secretary General added: “the Eucharist has three meanings, thanksgiving, Holy Mass, and the third one is our belief that Jesus Christ is really and substantially present in the Holy Eucharist under the appearances of bread and wine, in the transformed Holy Host. While the Congress itself means a meeting. In terms of the above, the Eucharistic Congress is a gigantic meeting with Jesus in Budapest, where Jesus is in the spotlight. The Holy Father’s visit is a great hope and encouragement in these hard times when dark clouds towering over us.” The IEC Secretary General referred to the Holy Father’s words made in Iraq in relation to the pandemic and other difficulties, marking ‘peace, reconciliation and mutual understanding’ as the goal of our intention.
Hungary had once hosted the Eucharistic Congress in 1938 in a tense and difficult historical moment. That time the Papal Legate referred to Hungary as the last bastion of Christianity. Now the question has been raised on the mission of such an event in 2021. ‘Christ is living with us nowadays as well’ – said Kornél Fábry. Hungarians have a mission: to preserve the Christian values, the transmission of faith, since a human without faith is a man without hope. “We should be the man of hope. Jesus promised us that life does not end by death, an eternal life is waiting for us, and we can meet Him in the Eucharist. We are reinforced by the Congress that God loves, forgives and waits for us with the promise of eternal life” – emphasized the IEC Secretary General.
The IEC Secretary General closed the interview with his repeated invitation to the event, highlighting that the International Eucharistic Congress is not an exclusive small group’s meeting. Though basically the Eucharistic Congress is a Catholic event, in fact, benevolent people of the world are warmly welcomed! The Eucharist is the link that binds rather than divides us.
Source: Hír TV