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regular-article-logo Sunday, 26 May 2024

Pope to Hungary: Don’t block migrants

More than 50,000 people gathered in and around the square behind Budapest’s iconic neo-gothic parliament building to see the pope on the last day of his visit to the country

Reuters Budapest Published 01.05.23, 04:53 AM
Pope Francis

Pope Francis File Photo

Pope Francis on Sunday presided over a big outdoor Mass where he urged Hungarians not to close the door on migrants and those who are “foreign or unlike us”, in contrast to the anti-immigrant policies of nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

More than 50,000 people gathered in and around the square behind Budapest’s iconic neo-gothic parliament building, a symbol of the capital on the Danube, to see the pope on the last day of his visit to the country.

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He continued a theme he began on the first day of his visit on Friday, when he warned against the dangers of rising nationalism in Europe, but put it in gospel context, saying that closed doors were painful and contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

Orban, a populist who was attending the Mass, sees himself as a protector of Christian values. He has said he would not allow Hungary to be transformed into an “immigrant country”, as he claims others in Europe have become, unrecognisable to its native peoples.

In his homily, the Pope said that if Hungarians wanted to follow Jesus, they would have to shun “the closed doors of our individualism amid a society of growing isolation; the closed doors of our indifference towards the underprivileged and those who suffer; the doors we close towards those who are foreign or unlike us, towards migrants or the poor”.

Orban’s government has built a steel fence on the border with Serbia to keep out migrants. Francis also spoke against doors “closed to the world”.

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