Pope urges Hungary to open doors to migrants at last Mass in Budapest – Times of India

Budapest: Pope Francis to plead Hungary to open his doors to others on Sunday, as he wrapped up a weekend visit with a plea for Europe to welcome migrants and the poor and end Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Francis Appeal issued from the banks of the Danube as the Hungarian Parliament and Budapest’s famous Chain Bridge celebrate mass at Kossuth Lajos Square in Budapest. The festivities provided the visual highlight of Francis’ three-day visit that has been dominated by the Vatican’s concern for the plight of neighboring Ukraine.
Citing local organisers, the Vatican said some 50,000 people attended Mass, more than 30,000 of them in the square on a gloriously sunny spring morning. Among them were President Katalin Novak and Hungary’s right-wing populist prime minister, Viktor Orban, whose lukewarm support for Ukraine has angered fellow EU members.
Francis commends Hungary for its recent reception of refugees from Ukraine. But he has challenged Orban’s tough anti-immigration policies, which included the construction of a razor wire fence along the border with Serbia in 2015-2016 to prevent people from entering. Upon arrival, Francis urged Hungary and Europe to welcome those fleeing war, poverty and climate change, calling for safe and legal migration corridors.
“How sad and painful it is to see closed doors,” Francis said in his Sunday homily on the Danube. “The closed doors of our selfishness in relation to others; the closed doors of our individualism amid a society of increasing alienation; the closed doors of our indifference to the disadvantaged and the oppressed; the doors we close to those who are foreign or opposite To us, to migrants or to the poor,” Francis said.
In a final prayer at the end of Mass, Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine and for “a future of hope, not war, a future full of cradles, not graves, a world of brothers and sisters, not walls”.
Francis, 86, has tried to create a diplomatic balancing act in his pleas to end Russia’s war, expressing solidarity with Ukrainians while keeping the door open for talks with Moscow. On Saturday, he prayed with Ukrainian refugees and then met with an envoy from Russian Patriarch Kirill, who strongly supported the invasion of Moscow and justified it as a spiritual battle against the liberal West.
Francis kissed Metropolitan Hilarion’s cross in a sign of respect for the Russian Orthodox Church during a 20-minute “cordial” meeting at the Vatican’s embassy in Budapest. Hilarion, who developed good relations with the Vatican as the Russian Church’s longtime foreign minister, said he briefed Francis on his work as the Moscow Patriarchate’s representative in Budapest.
Vatican News said Hilarion attended Francis’ Sunday mass, along with representatives of other Christian churches and the Jewish community in Hungary.
Francis’ trip to Hungary, his second in as many years, brought him as close as possible to the Ukrainian front but also to the heart of Europe, where Orban’s allegedly right-wing Christian government has positioned itself as a bulwark against a secular Western kept as World.
Francis, however, has used the trip as a way for the continent to find unity and a sense of purpose again, referring to Budapest’s bridges across the Danube as a symbol of unity and connection. The visit comes at a time when the EU legislature is pressuring Hungary to ask EU lawmakers to consider a fall in the law and democratic principles, including media freedom and LGBTQ+ rights.
The site for his final Mass could not have been more fitting for Francis’ message: the spacious square is named after one of Hungary’s best-known statesmen, who led it after the 1848–1849 revolution against Habsburg rule. Previously served as Prime Minister. It is home to Hungary’s iconic neo-Gothic Parliament, the country’s largest building and its National Assembly, just across from the left bank of the Danube River. Nearby is the Chain Bridge, one of several bridges spanning the river and connecting the Pest and Buda sides of the city.
Sister Marta, a Hungarian-born Brazilian nun who attended the Mass, said she hoped Francis’ message of welcome would be heard in Hungary. “We (Brazilians) have become accustomed to openness towards others, and we hope that Hungary will also open in this direction,” he said after the liturgy.
But Budapest resident Arno Sara said that the country is fine as it is.
Sarah said, “I don’t know if we (Hungary) need to change or not. There is nothing in this country that is out of the ordinary, any kind of behavior we have to change.”
Francis ended his visit on Sunday with a speech on European culture at the Pázmány Peter Catholic University in Budapest.