Pope Francis made an unusual short visit to Hungary today. In mass, he called on tens of thousands of attendees to “open arms for everyone.” That message is seen as a response to Prime Minister Orbáns stringent migration policy, among other things.
Francis has criticised countries such as Hungary that have nationalist and populist politics on several occasions. The rights of LHBTIpeople are also curtailed in Hungary, while the Pope seems more tolerant to this group than its predecessors. For example, he advocates the gay civil partnership.
84-year-old Francis eventually stayed in the capital Budapest for seven hours to conclude an international Roman Catholic meeting. He then left for Slovakia, where he visits several cities until Wednesday.
This morning, after landing in Budapest, the Pope was greeted at the airport by Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, Cardinal Péter Erdo and Hungarian Bishops.
The smiling pope waved at children along the road, then he got into a car that took him to central Budapest:
In the center, he had a brief meeting with Orbán, with the usual photo opportunity missing beforehand. Orbán did post a picture on Facebook of the meeting. The comment was: “I asked Pope Francis not to let Christian Hungary go down.” The Prime Minister has repeatedly proclaimed that Hungarys Christian identity is being threatened by Islamic immigrants.
The Vatican stated in advance that the Popes visit would be so short because it had no official status. The Pope would also have been invited alone to close the meeting.