On Kossuth Lajos Square in Budapest, in the shadow of the imposing Hungarian Parliament and its neo-Gothic facade, the sun bathes the crowds who came to attend the mass celebrated by Pope Francis this morning. On the third and last day of his trip to the Hungarian capital, the pope wanted, on Sunday April 30, to deliver a clear message in favor of openness and the reception of all, including refugees and migrants, an extremely sensitive issue. in Viktor Orban’s Hungary.
Jesus, insisted the pope, “urges us to go out to meet our brothers”. He encouraged those who listened to him to be “like Jesus, an open door”. “It is sad and painful to see closed doors”, he continued, before citing “the closed doors of our individualism in a society which risks atrophying in loneliness”, but also those “of our indifference to those who are suffering” and “to those who are foreign, different, migrants, poor, closed to those who are not in order”.
Meeting with the Mayor of Budapest
“Please, implored the pope: let’s open the doors! Catholics, the pope insisted, must be “a door that is never slammed in anyone’s face.” Words that resonated in a particular way, as Hungary is the European Union state most closed to refugees, refusing the Dublin system establishing quotas across the EU. In 2022, the country issued fewer than 20 visas to asylum seekers, apart from Ukrainians, who benefit, as in all European Union countries, from temporary protection status, not that of refugee.
The day before the mass, Pope Francis had met in the evening the mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karácsony. A private meeting organized at the nunciature with one of the main opponents of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who was not on the pope’s program but made public by the Vatican at the end of the 15-minute meeting between the two men.
During the mass, the Hungarian prime minister, who attended the celebration, and with whom the pope had shown his agreement on the war in Ukraine, was opposed this time by the pope to very clear differences on the migratory question. The theme of migrants was, along with peace in Ukraine, one of the two major themes of this papal visit to Budapest, which began on Friday 28 April. Words received in very different ways among the 50,000 faithful present on the eastern bank of the Danube.
“We must be careful that our culture does not disappear”
“If the migrants are legal, they can come to Hungary,” said Akos, 49, wearing a beige Scout uniform. But otherwise, they have no place in Hungary. “Before this ranger continues: “Me, I did not hear that during this trip, the Pope asked us to welcome more migrants. “Remarks similar to those made by Leventé, 44 years old: “Migration is a difficult question. In the European Union, there are 500 million inhabitants, but more than 1 billion in Africa. We have to be careful that our culture does not disappear,” he says, in an impeccable suit and tie.
This perception is a thousand miles from that expressed by Csenjer, 29, a PhD in biochemistry who came with his wife and 2-year-old son to attend the mass presided over by Pope Francis, “the head of our Church”, specifies he. “On migrants, I prefer the pope’s position to that of the Hungarian government,” he summarizes. What effect will these encouragements from Francis to welcome migrants have? “On the government, none,” replies the young man frankly. But I think things will change in people’s hearts. I hope so, at least. »