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A drum-beating program in the heart of Europe awaits the 84-year-old Argentine pope for nearly four days. Enough to forget the concerns raised by his colon operation in early July.

The Pope’s physical form – who recently laughed off rumors of his resignation – will be closely scrutinized during his trip. As usual, his personal doctor will be on board the plane. He will first land in Budapest for a quick visit of seven hours, during which he will preside over a mass closing the International Eucharistic Congress. It is not a state visit strictly speaking, but a participation in a spiritual event, with on the sidelines of the program a joint meeting with President Janos Ader and Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Asked what he would like to say to Viktor Orban, the Pope nevertheless sowed a bit of trouble by saying recently on Spanish radio Cope: “I don’t know if I will meet him”. A diplomatic way of not speaking out on an opponent of his urgent calls for a wider reception of migrants in Europe? “I think he wanted to minimize the importance of the meeting with Orban,” says an observer who knows the Pope well. Anyway, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirms the meeting.

Two handshakes

Jorge Bergoglio and Viktor Orban have never had a formal tête-à-tête, but have shaken hands twice in the Vatican. The first time, in 2016, after a hearing granted to an international organization of Catholic jurists. The second time in March 2017, when the Pope received the heads of state and government of the EU who came to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. The Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See, Eduard Habsburg, describes an “extremely cordial” meeting between the two men on this occasion.

Before their handshake, the Pope had nevertheless warned in his speech that Europe “risks dying” if it does not find its original ideals, in particular “solidarity”, “the most effective antidote against populism” … At the antipodes, Viktor Orban recommends for his part to refuse Muslim migrants on European soil so as not “to destroy the Christian heritage”.

“Viktor Orban is a Hungarian with direct language”, whose words are sometimes reported with a negative bias, tempers his ambassador Eduard Habsburg, preferring to stress that he has many themes in common with the Pope, such as “religious freedom or persecuted Christians ”.

Sovereignist Viktor Orban, from a Calvinist background, returned to power in 2010 with the ambition to promote Christian values ​​erased by decades of communism, in a country which ten years ago had only 39% of Catholics and 11% Protestants, with 15% of believers attending services.

Three days in a poorly vaccinated Slovakia

Slovakia, which he will travel for three days on leaving Budapest, turns out to be one of the least vaccinated countries in Europe… Only half of adults are fully vaccinated, against more than 70% in the whole of the country. EU.

The government had initially decided to reserve all events for the vaccinated, causing discontent. He changed his mind a week before the trip, deciding to give entry tickets to holders of negative tests and those recovered from covid-19. Some 80,000 people have registered to follow the Pope, including 7,000 unvaccinated, specifies Martin Kramara, spokesperson for the Slovak Episcopal Conference.

Slovak Ambassador to the Holy See Marek Lisansky admits vaccination rates are “not ideal” in his small state of 5.4 million people, but the Pope’s visit will be “a unique moment for the country “. “The Pope comes in this incredible period of pandemic to offer us his solidarity”, ecstasies the diplomat, praising a country where thirteen recognized national minorities coexist.




letelegramme Fr Trans

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