Pope Calls For Openness After Meeting Hungary’s Orban
During the visit to Hungary on Sunday, which lasted just seven hours, the pope called on the tens of thousands thronging the vast Heroes’ Square in Budapest to be “grounded and open, rooted and considerate”.
The head of 1.3 billion Catholics has often urged help for the marginalised and those of all religions fleeing war and poverty.
Thousands crowded a nearby boulevard, along which screens and loudspeakers had been set up, while others watched from nearby balconies and other buildings.
“The pope never says anything without reason. His words are well chosen and carry a subtle message,” said Zsuzsanna Pusztai, 75.
Christianity is very important in Hungary, but the pope noted: “the cross also invites us to spread our arms and not to entrench ourselves,” as he celebrated the concluding mass of the International Eucharistic Congress.
Francis met Orban and other senior politicians.
The Vatican described the meeting as “cordial”, saying they discussed environmental protection and the promotion of the family among other topics.
There has been no love lost between Orban supporters and the Catholic leader. Pro-Orban media and political figures have called Francis “anti-Christian” for his pro-refugee sentiments.
Earlier, Francis told Hungarian bishops that various ethnic and religious groups had “transformed this country into a multicultural environment”, presenting a “great opportunity”.
In contrast, Orban’s signature attacks against migration have included border fences and detention camps for asylum seekers.
“It is hard to expect Europe to be increasingly influenced and enriched by the Gospel if we … are not yet fully united and are unconcerned for one another,” he said.
It is the first time a pope has visited Slovakia in 18 years and he has a packed itinerary ahead.
Alongside the official appointments, Pope Francis also plans to visit a housing estate in Kosice that is home to thousands of Roma people who are living there despite difficult conditions. He is also due to stop in Presov and the small town of Sastin-Straze.