Migrants and Ukraine, the Pope of Orban: what they said

Pope Francis in Budapest until April 30. The Pontiff met with the President of the Hungarian Republic Katalin Novak and Prime Minister Victor Orban at Sandor Palace. First, the Holy Father had a personal meeting with Novak and then spoke with Orban, one of the European leaders closest to Moscow, one of the few interlocutors left to negotiate peace between Russia and Ukraine, the latter on the border precisely with ‘Hungary. Also residing in Budapest is Metropolitan Hilarion, formerly No. 2 to the Russian Patriarch Kirill, then sent to Hungary for expressing reservations about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

European Union, war, migrants at the face-to-face table in Hungary. “Budapest is a city of bridges. Seen from above, the pearl of the Danube shows its peculiarity thanks to the bridges that unite its parts, harmonizing its configuration with that of the great river”, declared the Pontiff in his first speech given in Budapest. “This harmony with the environment leads me to congratulate the ecological care that this country pursues with great commitment. But the bridges, which connect different realities, also suggest reflecting on the importance of a unit that does not mean uniformity. In Budapest, this emerges from the remarkable variety of circumscriptions that compose it, more than twenty. Even the Europe of the twenty-seven, built to build bridges between nations, needs everyone’s contribution without diminishing anyone’s uniqueness”. About the war he asked where is the diplomacy to stop the bombs: “In this historical phase there are many dangers; but, I wonder, even thinking of troubled Ukraine, where are the creative efforts for peace?” And still on migrants, the Holy Father recalled that we must welcome and not reject: debates in our days and certainly complex”. But “it is by thinking of Christ present in so many desperate brothers and sisters fleeing conflict, poverty and climate change that we need to face the problem without excuses and delay. It is a topic to be tackled together, as a community, because, in the context in which we live, sooner or later the consequences will affect everyone. It is therefore urgent, like Europe, to work in safe and legal ways, in shared mechanisms in the face of a challenge of the time that cannot be contained by rejection, but must be accepted to prepare a future that, if it does not go together, it will not be” .

At the end of the meeting, accompanied by Novak and the Hungarian Prime Minister, the Pontiff went to the terrace behind the former Carmelite convent, from where you can admire the city of Budapest. A meeting, therefore, whose implications could have significant consequences. But this, however, is not the first. Previously, in fact, Bergoglio and Orbàn met three more times: in 2016, in 2021 and in 2022.

In April 2022, Orban was received on a private visit by Pope Francis to the Vatican: Bergoglio thanked him for welcoming Ukrainian refugees fleeing the bombs. “I asked Pope Francis to support our efforts for peace”, said Orban at the end of the audience, taking the opportunity to invite him on a state visit to Hungary.

Prior to that, they had met in Budapest, in September 2021, along with the then President of the Republic of Hungary, Janos Ader, and the heads of the Vatican Secretariat of State, Pietro Parolin and Paul Richard Gallagher, during the brief visit of the Pope to Hungarian capital for the closing Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress. During the meeting, the role of the Church in Hungary and the commitment to protect the environment were discussed. And Orbán asked Bergoglio “not to let Christianity perish in Hungary”.

The first meeting – brief and unofficial – dates back to August 28, 2016, when Bergoglio received Orbàn along with other European Christian leaders and parliamentarians participating in Frascati at the annual meeting of Rete/ICln, a think tank born in 2010 on the initiative of the Archbishop of Vienna Christoph Schönborn and Lord David Alton.

Source: IL Tempo