On the final day of his trip to Hungary, more than 50,000 people gathered on and around the iconic neogothic Parliament building in Budapest, the capital city on the Danube.
He continued the theme that he started on Friday on his first day in Europe when he warned of the dangers posed by the rising nationalalism in Europe. But he put it into a gospel context and said that closed doors are painful and contradictory to Jesus’ teachings.
Orban, the populist who attended Mass, views himself as a protector for Christian values. He said that he wouldn’t allow Hungary to become an “immigrant nation”, as other countries in Europe, he claimed, have become unrecognizable to their native peoples.
Francis, aged 86, said in his homily that Hungarians who wanted to follow Jesus had to reject “the closed door of our individualism within a society of increasing isolation; the closed door of our indifference to the underprivileged and the suffering; the doors which we close to those who are different or foreign, towards migrants or poor people”.
Francis believes that migrants who are fleeing from poverty should be integrated and welcomed because they enrich the culture of host countries. They can also boost Europe’s shrinking population. He says that countries should protect their borders but migrants should be spread throughout the European Union.
Orban’s Government has built a fence of steel on the border between Hungary and Serbia in order to keep migrants out.
Francis spoke out against “closed doors to the world” in his homily.
Peter Szoke of the Sant’ Egidio peace group, the Hungarian chapter leader, attended the Mass and agreed with the Pope’s prescription.
He said: “There’s a great temptation to self-referentialize, to only refer to ourselves and our reality. But there are also other realities – those of the poor, of other nations, of wars and injustices.”
Francis used religious contexts to support his message in Sunday’s homily. On Friday, 28 April, he quoted St Stephen, founder of Christian Hungary in the 11th century, about welcoming strangers.
Francis, in his usual Sunday address after Mass, mentioned the war on the eastern border of Hungary, Ukraine. He asked the Madonna for protection of both the Ukrainians and Russians.
He said: “Instil the desire for peace in the hearts and minds of the people and their leaders, and give them a future filled with hope and not war. A future full of cradles and not tombs. A world of brothers, and not walls.”
This is the first trip that the pope has taken since being hospitalized for bronchitis back in March.
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