Pope Francis in Hungary on pastoral visit

 VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis arrived in Hungary on Friday morning for a three-day pastoral visit in which he will meet with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Catholic leaders, members of local Catholic communities and refugees, Vatican media reported. 

 Before leaving Casa Santa Marta early on Friday morning, the pope, accompanied by the Prefect of the Dicastery for Charity, His Eminence Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, was greeted by 15 homeless people living near St. Peter’s. 

 He then was transferred by car to Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport where, at 8:21 a.m., he left for Budapest. 

 On leaving Italian territory, the pope sent a telegram to the Italian President, Sergio Mattarella. 

 “As I prepare to leave the soil of Italy to make an apostolic journey to Hungary, moved by the desire to meet brothers and sisters in the faith and bear witness to the importance of building bridges between peoples, I address to you, Mr. President, and to all Italians my cordial greetings, which I accompany with fervent prayers for the good of the nation.”

 While flying over Croatia, the pope sent a telegram to the Croatian president, Mr. Zoran Milanović, with the assurance of his prayers. 

 “As I travel through Croatian airspace on my journey to Hungary, I send greetings of good wishes to your excellency and your fellow citizens, together with the assurance of my prayers that almighty God will bestow upon the nation his gifts of fraternity, joy and peace.”

 The pope landed at Budapest International Airport at 10 a.m. on Friday morning where he was welcomed with an official reception. 

 At 11 a.m., the pope will visit Sándor Palace where he will make a courtesy visit to the President of the Republic, Katalin Novák, before holding talks with Orbán. 

 The pope will then make a brief visit to the former Carmelite Monastery where he will meet with authorities, the Civil Society and Diplomatic Corps. 

 In the early evening, the pope will meet with bishops, priests and seminarians at the Cathedral of St Stephen.