Participants and performers who will be present at the Papp László Arena during the Pope’s visit will be subjected to extraordinary measures. Security checks will be similar to those at airports, it has been reported in the Hungarian media.
As Hungarian Conservative previously reported, Pope Francis is coming to Hungary later this week. The Holy Father will be in the country between 28 and 30 April. On the first day of his visit, he will meet with clergy and monks at St Stephen’s Basilica.
Preparations have been ongoing for some time for the high-profile visit. Two carpenters are working 12 hours a day to prepare chairs that meet the Vatican’s requirements for Pope Francis. On 29 April, 11,000 Hungarians from both sides of the border will fill the Papp László Sport Arena to meet with the pope within the framework of the Forráspont initiative, a gathering organised for young Hungarian Catholics by the Catholic Church of Hungary. Recently, it was also revealed that Magdi Rúzsa, one of the most popular Hungarian singers will also be present at the Arena, in addition to other artists who will perform the song composed for the papal visit.
According to Hungarian Daily Ripost, all performers who will be present at the Papp László Arena will be subjected to strict security measures and provided with extra protection. Referring to insider information, the paper reported that the organisers informed the performers days before the event that the stage equipment needed to be transported to the venue as soon as possible, and the instruments had to be brought into the Arena two days prior to the performance. On the day of the performance, artists will only be allowed to bring a small bag with them. This means security checks will be similar to those at airports, so participants and performers will need to arrive hours before the event.
According to the Hungarian Daily Magyar Nemzet, all sewage systems along the routes and sites of the visit are being inspected for explosives and weapons. Bomb-detection robots are being used in sewer sections of public spaces that the pope will be visiting during the trip and locations that are humanly accessible are being checked by the bomb disposal unit of the Counter Terrorism Centre (TEK). The experts responsible for securing the sewer systems are also sealing off certain sections underground, and the authorities are constantly monitoring the sealed-off points.
It is not yet known which route Pope Francis’s motorcade will take to enter the city centre on Friday, and which route he will take to leave on Sunday. Generally, at least three routes are designated for this purpose, and will be only decided at the last minute, after the Holy Father’s plane has landed, which one the secured motorcade will ultimately use.
In addition to the sewage canals, the columns holding lampposts and traffic lights along the affected routes are also being checked, because they are hollow and pose a potential threat. Residents living in the areas affected by the papal visit, as well as surrounding houses and buildings, will also be subject to security checks. It is expected that certain roads, and even entire neighbourhoods, will be closed off during a certain period of time, during which no one can enter or exit the area, and even residents will be asked to stay in their homes.
Throughout the entire visit, snipers will be working, and police helicopters as well as a swarm of drones will also be deployed. A no-fly zone over the city centre and prominent locations such as the Basilica or Kossuth Square has already been designated by the authorities where private drones will not be allowed to be flown, with the police having announced that they will ground or destroy any such unauthorised device.
The locations where mass events will be held, such as Kossuth Square and St Stephen’s Square in front of the Basilica will be approachable only after multiple inspections.
The head of the Catholic Church is among the world leaders who are most exposed to security risks. It is well-known that the intelligence agencies of every country strictly guard their political leaders, however, four of them belong to a separate category because of their global influence. According to Magyar Nemzet, the American and Russian presidents, the Israeli prime minister, and the pope are the world’s most strictly protected leaders.
The Programme of the Apostolic Journey
As we reported earlier, the official programme of the Apostolic Journey can be accessed on the website set up for the visit. On 28 April, the pope will arrive at the Ferenc Liszt International Airport at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m., a celebratory welcome will be held in front of the Sándor Palace, where the pope will meet Katalin Novák and Viktor Orbán. At 5 p.m., the Holy Father will meet with bishops, priests, deacons, members of monastic orders, seminarians, and pastoral workers in St Stephen’s Basilica, where he will also give a speech. On 29 April, the pope will visit the Blessed László Batthyány-Strattmann Home for the Blind in the morning. Later that day, he will meet less fortunate people and refugees at the Church of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary in Rózsák Square. In the afternoon of the same day, Pope Francis will meet with young people in the Papp László Budapest Sports Arena, also delivering remarks there. On the morning of April 30, he will celebrate a Holy Mass in Kossuth Square, and in the afternoon, he will meet with university leaders and faculty and give a speech at the Faculty of Information Technology and Bionics of Pázmány Péter Catholic University.