Pope in Hungary warns of rising nationalism in Europe, appeals to welcome migrants

BUDAPEST, April 28 (Reuters) – Pope Francis, who began a trip to Hungary, warned of the dangers of rising nationalism in Europe and told the government in Budapest that accepting migrants along with other continents would be a real sign. Christianity.

In a tough speech to government leaders, including Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has had repeated run-ins with the European Union, Francis urged them to reject “self-referential forms of populism” and strictly nationalist interests.

Francis called for a return to the “European soul” envisioned by those who founded modern Europe after World War II, saying countries must “look beyond national borders.”

Speaking on the day Kiev vowed an “iron fist” response after Russia launched its first large-scale airstrikes in Ukraine in nearly two months, Francis made another plea for an end to the war there, calling for “creative efforts for peace”. To drown out the “solomons of war”.

The 86-year-old pope’s first trip since being hospitalized for bronchitis in March was the three-day trip.

Francis, who suffers from a knee ailment, looked cheerful, using a cane to greet dignitaries and children in national dress at the airport. Among the recent arrivals, he used a wheelchair.

Asked by reporters about his health on a flight from Rome, the pope joked that “I’m still alive” and that “stubborn weeds never die.”

Francis has promised to make an official visit to Hungary in 2021, after stopping just seven hours before closing a church congress in Budapest en route to Slovakia.

Orban, 59, and the pope have differing views on how to deal with migration from the Middle East and Africa to Europe, with Francis believing that migrants fleeing poverty should be welcomed.

Orban, who built a steel fence along Serbia’s border to keep out migrants, refused to allow Hungary to become a “settlement country”.

He asked Francis in 2021, during the Pope’s last visit, “don’t let Christian Hungary perish.”

The founder of Hungary was St

In his speech at the presidential palace overlooking the Danube after separate private meetings with President Katalin Novak and Orbán, Francis quoted St. Stephen, the 11th-century founder of Christian Hungary.

“Those who profess to be Christians, together with the witnesses of the faith, are called to bear witness to each other to develop a humanity inspired by the Gospels and to move along two fundamental paths: confessing ourselves as beloved children. The Father who loves one another as brothers and sisters,” Francis said.

“In this regard, St. Stephen gave his son extraordinary fraternal words when he told him that those who come with different languages ​​and customs ‘decorate the land,'” Francis said, “Welcome strangers with kindness. Respect them’.

But Francis took comfort in Orban’s rejection of outsiders imposing what he says are liberal values. Francis condemned any “ideological colonization” on issues such as “so-called gender theory” or “the right to abortion”.

Later, addressing bishops, priests and nuns at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Francis urged Hungarians to confront “the rapid pace of social change and the crisis of faith affecting our Western culture.”

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Orban, who said Hungary and the Vatican were the only two European countries that could be described as “pro-peace”, later posted on his official Facebook page that the pope’s words “confirmed” Hungary’s desire for peace in Ukraine. .

Hungary supports a sovereign Ukraine, but still has strong economic ties with Russia. Orban’s government has refused to send weapons to Ukraine. The Pope has said that sending arms to Ukraine for self-defense is morally permissible.

Report by Philippe Pullella

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