Pope Francis has arrived to visit Hungary, he will present a vision for Europe

Pope Francis has arrived to visit Hungary, he will present a vision for Europe

Pope František flew to Hungary, presented a vision for Europe

Pope Francis on a visit to Hungary, 28 Budna 2023, Budapest.

Budapest – Pope Francis has arrived to visit Hungary, where, among other things, he wants to talk about his vision of the future of Europe, plagued by the war in Ukraine and the migration crisis. Today he will meet with President Katalin Nováková and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. He will also meet with representatives of civil society and in St. Stephen's Basilica with bishops and clergy. The culmination of his stay in Budapest will be an open-air Sunday Mass in front of the Hungarian Parliament.

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At the airport, the Pope, leaning on a cane while walking, was greeted with applause by Hungarian officials, a boy and a girl dressed in national costumes offered him bread and salt. František was last in Hungary in September 2021, when he stopped there for just a few hours on his way to Slovakia. He promised to come to Hungary for a longer official visit.

According to Hungarian officials, the Pope came to Budapest mainly to pay attention to Hungarian believers and support them in their faith. However, the AP agency writes that due to the fact that war is raging outside Hungary and the country's leadership has long-standing disputes with the European Union due to violations of the principles of the rule of law and the rights of people from the LGBT community, the Pope's visit also has a strong political undertone.

In addition to believers or youth, the head of the Catholic Church will also meet war refugees from Ukraine. About 35,000 of the approximately 2.5 million people who crossed the Ukrainian-Russian border after the start of the Russian invasion settled in Hungary. This will be one of the occasions when the Pope will be able to talk about migration and show again that he believes that European countries should, within their possibilities, be welcoming to people fleeing conflicts and poverty. At the same time, Prime Minister Orbán is well known for his refusal to accept migrants from Muslim countries, he describes himself as a defender of Christian values ​​in Europe.

Before the Pope's trip to Budapest, Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin recalled in an interview with the Vatican News portal that although many people coming to Europe from the Middle East and other crisis areas are not refugees, “most of them need protection and all of them must be treated with respect, which they deserve as human beings”.

Francis, however, appreciates the Hungarian approach to accepting Orthodox Ukrainians who were driven from their homes by Russian aggression.

In connection with the war in Ukraine, Orbán said on the occasion of the Pope's visit that Hungary and the Vatican are the only two countries in Europe that can be described as “peaceful”, writes the Reuters agency. Both are calling for a cease-fire and negotiations leading to an end to the war, and Francis is urging Ukraine to be open to dialogue with the “aggressor,” which Kiev rejects. Although Hungary supports the sovereignty of Ukraine, it still has strong economic ties with Russia. Orbán's government refuses to send weapons to help the country facing Russian aggression. The pope often calls for a general ban on arms trade and restrictions on their production, but he said sending military equipment to the Ukrainian army is morally acceptable if it is used in self-defense.

Parolin said that although the pope's trip to Ukraine was planned even before the start of the conflict in Ukraine, “this tragedy is very close to the Pope's heart” and the Pope will not miss any opportunity to plead for peace.

AP writes that the trip to Hungary is a test for the health of the 86-year-old Pope, who spent four days in hospital last month due to respiratory problems. Hungarian officials had hoped that the head of the Catholic Church would visit various places in the country, but the Vatican decided to concentrate all events in Budapest.