“The artistic preparations, Masses, musical pieces are done, but the rehearsals, with a great number of people, are yet to come.”
According to the congress program, the opening Mass on Sept. 5 will include First Communions. The cardinal told CNA that children currently preparing for their First Communion would be offered different options.
Children can postpone the date of their First Communion until the fall of 2021. Alternatively, they can receive First Communion in their own parishes and then sit together at the congress in their own sector, as the first communicants of 2020. Those too young to receive their First Communion last year can apply to receive the Sacrament in 2021.
Erdő said that the situation regarding hotel reservations would become clearer as the coronavirus crisis eases and hotels are allowed to operate again.
Hungary has recorded 368,710 COVID-19 cases and 12,578 deaths as of Feb. 1, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The Hungarian government has said that it will only begin relaxing restrictions when the number of current cases drops significantly.
Erdő said that those invited to speak at the congress sent a video message in the fall of 2020 which was viewed by many people on the official website and YouTube channel of the congress. Testimonies were also broadcast on Hungary’s public television channels.
“The preparation of the volunteers was also disrupted because of the pandemic, but we hope that soon we will be able to resume it. Anyway, we count on everyone who has applied so far,” he said.
“We also learned a lot from the experiences of the online events, so we are planning to make the congress online available to as many people as possible.”
The cardinal added that at a church in Budapest, the parish community prays every day at noon before the Eucharist for an end to the pandemic and relief for those suffering because of the virus.
The International Eucharistic Congress first took place in France in 1881. The event aims to offer a witness to the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and promote a better understanding of the liturgy and the Eucharist in the life of the Church. The congress is usually held every four years.
The last International Eucharistic Congress took place in Cebu City, in the Philippines, in 2016. There were 12,000 participants, though millions took part in associated Masses.
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Erdő said that the purpose of this year’s congress is summed up by the official prayer, which says that the event seeks to “serve the spiritual renewal of our community, cities, nation, Europe, and the world.”
“To be more precise, a lasting fruit of the congress in Cebu City was an orphanage, and we strive to establish a service network, which offers help and advice in a Catholic spirituality for the difficulties of the family life with the help of psychologists, teachers, doctors, etc,” he said.
“That would be our contribution to the lasting of the marriages, as Pope Francis also mentioned in his apostolic exhortation ‘Amoris laetitia.’”