Pope Francis made his 34th foreign trip on September 12 -15, 2021, traveling to the center of Europe and spending (as planned) just seven hours in Hungary and four days in Slovakia. Sixty percent of Hungary’s 10 million people are Catholic while Seventy-three percent of the Slovak Republic’s 5.5 million are Catholic. It was a demanding trip health-wise for the 84 year old Pope, coming only two months after his colon operation. His agenda had him continually meeting and traveling. In an interview before leaving Rome he said “maybe in this first trip I should be more careful because one has to recover completely.” But with a laugh he said: “in the end, it will be the same as the others, you will see, and he was right. He appeared in good shape throughout the journey. It was reported that “Many Hungarians” were at first “angry” that Pope Francis was only staying a few hours in their country. But when it was explained to them that he was invited for the celebration of the closing Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress, and it would not be normal to stay overnight, people became more reconciled. However, there were probably at least two other reasons for his short stay. Francis wanted to visit “the smaller” countries of Europe first, following his desire to go to “the peripheries” that are often overlooked. The other reason was that Francis is unhappy with Hungary’s populist anti-migrant policy and does not wish to be seen supporting that program. Some think Pope Francis by spending 7 hours in Hungary and 70 hours in Slovakia, was sending a subtle message that Europe should accept asylum seekers, especially from the Muslim world. Slovakian president Zuzana Caputova uses inclusive language when talking about refugees, while Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban is against Muslim immigration, thinking it could destroy Hungary’s heritage. In the closing Mass of the Eucharistic Congress in Budapest, Pope Francis used the imagery of a cross to show that something as deeply rooted as religious belief did not exclude a welcoming attitude. “The cross, planted in the ground, not only invites us to be well-rooted, it also raises and extends its arms towards everyone. But even in Slovakia, the first papal visit in 18 years, people were puzzled by why Francis was visiting their country for 70 hours compared with 7 hours in Hungary. They were also very reserved about his visit, with crowds of people not coming to see him like the millions that came to see Pope John Paul II. Perhaps Slovakian Catholics like Catholics everywhere find Francis too liberal or too conservatives for their liking, or maybe he is just a Catholic conservative the way one is supposed to be?