Matteo Bruni, the spokesman of the Holy See, said that after his visit to Hungary in 2021, Pope Francis felt that he wanted to spend more time with Hungarians.
Speaking on Friday, at a briefing in the Vatican, giving an outline of the pontiff’s upcoming visit to the country on April 28-30, Bruno noted that the Pope had participated at the closing mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress (INEC) in September 2021 in Budapest, and on his way back to the Vatican, he told the journalists accompanying him that he would be happy to return to Hungary “to devote more time to the Hungarians”. “The current visit to Hungary is the fulfilment of that promise,” Bruni said. He said that the upcoming visit would be Pope Francis’ 41st foreign visit since his investiture in 2013, with 60 countries covered so far. The pope’s schedule includes six speeches, all to be delivered in Italian. As regards the planned topics of the speeches and homilies, Bruni said that during his 2021 visit, the pope had already spoken about the priests who sacrificed their lives and followers who were persecuted for practising their faith during the communist dictatorship. The spokesman noted that the pope had declared Cardinal József Mindszenty, the Archbishop of Esztergom and Primate of Hungary, venerable in 2019. Bruni said that topics to be covered during the visit would include the deportation of Jews during the second world war and a mention of those who had participated in saving lives, including apostolic nuncio Angelo Rotta and Giorgio Perlasca. He said that coinciding with an extraordinary liturgical period in the weeks after Easter, the trip would be designed to convey the message about the future, hope, openness, and trust for Christians in the current difficult times. “We will be just a few hundred kilometres from Ukraine,” Bruni said, adding that “Pope Francis might also raise his voice for peace in his speeches”. Katalin Novák, the President of the Republic, said on Twitter on Sunday that Hungarians were looking forward to welcoming Pope Francis “with great love and prayers”. The president was responding to a message by the pontiff thanking Hungary for preparations for his visit. Novák thanked the pope for his “kind words”, and expressed hope that they could pray together in Hungary “for peace, families and for the renewal of faith, hope and love.”