The world today has a “desperate need” for a unified testimony of Eastern and Western Christianity, Cardinal Péter Erdő said in a mass celebrated during the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest on Saturday. “Such is the will of Christ who prayed for His followers to be one,” Erdő said in Kossuth Square, in front of the parliament building. Erdő thanked Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, for attending the congress, and called the Orthodox Church leader’s speech ahead of the mass an act “rich with symbolic meaning”. He noted that Bartholomew I had canonised Saint Stephen in the Orthodox Church in Budapest in 2000, adding that Eastern and Western Christianity were still united at the time of the death of Hungary’s first king in 1038.
At the end of mass, Erdő presented a miniature of the congress’s symbol, a cross containing relics of saints from Hungary and neighbouring countries, to Archbishop of Quito Alfredo José Espinoza Mateus. Ecuador will host the next Eucharistic Congress. Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén; Miklós Soltész, the state secretary for church and minority relations; and Bishop Tamás Fabiny of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary, also attended the mass. Participants at the mass filled the rows of chairs placed on Kossuth Square, and many also stood around the cordoned-off area and in the side streets leading to the square. After the mass, tens of thousands walked in a candlelight procession to Heroes’ Square.