Pope Francis to visit Slovakia, Hungary

Vatican City (AFP) –


Pope Francis announced Sunday he will visit Slovakia in September after a brief stop in Hungary to celebrate a mass in the capital Budapest.

"I'm happy to announce that from September 12 to 15... I will go to Slovakia for a pastoral visit," Francis told pilgrims gathered on Rome's St Peter's Square for his traditional Sunday prayer.

He added that he would celebrate the closing mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest on September 12.

Francis' visit to Slovakia will include the cities of Bratislava, Presov, Kosice and Sastin, the Vatican said in a statement.

Slovakia's President Zuzana Caputova invited the pope to visit when she had an audience with Francis in Rome last December.

"I believe the presence of the pope will be a message of reconciliation and hope for us all in these difficult times", she said on Facebook.

Although more detailed plans for the trip will be announced later, there was no sign the pope intends to meet Hungary's political leaders during his stop in Budapest.

Francis had signalled in March his intention to go to the Budapest congress, adding it would not be a state visit to Hungary.