Pope Francis Arrives in Hungary


Pope Francis in the St. Stephen's Basilica on April 28, 2023.

Photo by Zoltán Balogh/MTI

Pope Francis arrived in Hungary on Friday for a three-day apostolic visit, news agency MTI reports.

The pope was welcomed on the tarmac at Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport by Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó.

Pope Francis was greeted by President Katalin Novák and a guard of honor at the Sándor Palace later in the morning.

In a speech welcoming the pope, Novák said Hungarians and millions of people around the world view Pope Francis as "a man of peace" and expressed hope that he could advocate for a just peace as soon as possible by talking to world leaders.

She added that the pope's visit had come "at the right moment".

Novák pointed to the importance of the alliance between Hungary and the Catholic Church in "defending human life, women and men, our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters, and the freedom of those who think and live differently".

Addressing state officials, diplomats and members of civil society at the former Carmelite Monastery in Budapest, Pope Francis said peace "will never come as the result of the pursuit of individual strategic interests", but only from policies "capable of looking to the bigger picture, to the development of everyone". 

Quoting Robert Schuman, one of the founders of the European Union, he said "world peace cannot be ensured except by creative efforts, proportionate to the dangers threatening it" and asked where those "creative efforts for peace" are now, when the dangers are "many indeed".

Pope Francis said the Europe of 27 nations "requires the contribution of all while not diminishing the uniqueness of each". "That is the unity we need, the harmony of a whole whose parts are not blandly homogenized but fully integrated," he added.

"In this regard, the Hungarian Constitution rightly states: 'individual freedom can only be complete in cooperation with others' and again 'we believe that our national culture is a rich contribution to the diversity of European unity'," he said.

Pope Francis had a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the Sándor Palace, the PM's press chief told MTI.

Orbán noted at the talks that Hungary's Constitution recognizes the role of Christianity in "preserving nationhood". "Without Christianity, there would be no Hungary today," he said.


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