The cardinal prayed to God that participants, “especially during the week of the congress”, would feel “Christ is with us at the Eucharist, and he will not abandon the Church, peoples or mankind”. Erdő welcomed Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, the first celebrant of the opening mass, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the foreign affairs office of the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as 1,200 children receiving first communion.
In a radio interview earlier in the day, the Cardinal said fully 1.2 billion Catholics from five continents “will be watching us over the next few days”. Not only is the Congress a big draw for Catholics, but other denominations in Hungary and surrounding countries are also showing interest in “the big Christian meeting” in Budapest, the cardinal said. “We agree with Eastern Christians on the Eucharist, so we have a common faith,” he said. “There’s a real basis for celebrating it together.” More than 200,000 people have registered to attend the Congress’s various programmes, he noted.