By Stefan J. Bos
At the Mass, organized in a closed circle due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cardinal Erdő prayed for God's blessing to grant families strength. In published remarks about the Mass, he made clear that prayer was the best way to open Pope Francis' family year in Hungary.
The Mass was also an attempt to prepare the Church for the arrival of Pope Francis, who will travel to Hungary's capital in September to participate in the closing Mass of the 52nd Eucharistic Congress.
Erdő had announced recently that the Pope was to appear at the 2020 International Eucharistic Congress, an annual Catholic clergy and laypeople gatherin, but that it had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic that authorities say killed more than 18,000 people in Hungary alone. The Cardinal explained that Pope Francis would instead visit the final day of the eight-day Congress in Budapest on September 12.
That visit comes as an encouragement to the many Hungarian families struggling to survive as the European Union nation of nearly 10 million people faces economic challenges.
Hungary's family affairs minister, Katalin Novák, wrote in a letter read at the Mass, that she appreciates that families could always count on Christian Churches' service. She said that Church support was crucial as the government believes that the traditional family, which she called a "cornerstone of Christian life and culture," is under attack.
Though Hungary's population is still declining, the government claims its pro-family policy helped increase the number of marriages by 80 percent since 2010.
Miklós Soltész, the state secretary for church relations and ethnic minorities, said at the Mass that the number of couples deciding to have children has also grown.