Government to set up operative board to manage Budapest International Eucharistic Congress

An operative board will be set up to manage the International Eucharistic Congress (NEK) scheduled to be held in Budapest from Sept. 5 to 12, a government official said on Monday.

Zoltan Kovacs, the state secretary for international relations, said it was important that the congress is organised under the safest possible circumstances, emphasising the importance of the safety of those visiting the country for the event.

Though the state has no responsibilities regarding the programmes organised by the church, ensuring the safety of the roughly 100,000 people who will be in Budapest for the congress and organising the various cultural programmes are priorities, Kovacs said.

Janos Kuczik, commander of the operational police force, said the force had spent four years preparing for the event. Pope Francis, who will be celebrating the closing mass of the congress, will be protected by counter terrorism force TEK, he said.

The police force is in daily contact with the NEK secretariat, making it easier to take the nature of the church programmes into consideration when planning the security of the event, Kuczik said.

The operational police force’s preparations for the event have involved collaboration with other law enforcement groups, the National Ambulance Service and the National Public Health Centre, he said, adding that members of the Vatican gendarmerie corps and the Swiss Guard had also visited Hungary multiple times in the recent period.

The International Eucharistic Congress is the first global church event to be organised since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Gabor Mohos, the head of the NEK secretariat, said, adding that the congress will also be streamed online.

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