Slovakia – After a short half-day visit to Hungary for the closure of the International Eucharistic Congress on Sunday 12 September, during which Pope Francis will meet, among others, with Hungarian President János Áder and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, the Holy Father will travel to Slovakia for a three-day visit, where he will spend time in Bratislava, Košice, Prešov, and the Slovak National Shrine of Šaštin (Trnava region).
Only 57,000 people registered to see the Pope
Due to the Covid pandemic, the number of people who can attend the meetings with Pope Francis is limited and a system of pre-registration has been put in place. For the same reason, registrations were initially reserved for people vaccinated against Covid. However, as of 2 September only 57,000 people had registered to attend the Pope’s visit, while the Slovak episcopate was expecting about half a million faithful.
Pope Francis not very popular among Central European Catholics
To tell the truth, Pope Francis is clearly less popular than some of his predecessors with the majority of Catholic worshippers in Central Europe. Many do not find him conservative enough and do not share his positions on immigration, his tolerance of the LGBT lobby, or even his statements in favour of vaccination against Covid.
Segregation between vaccinated and unvaccinated
To avoid having the Bishop of Rome preaching in front of sparse crowds, it has now been decided to allow non-vaccinated people to register for these meetings as well, but they will have to present a negative Covid test and they will be kept in separate areas. Such a distinction is something completely new in the Catholic Church.
Even though it is put in place for public health reasons, one may wonder what has happened to the Christian spirit of the kiss to the leper.