Pope in final Mass in Budapest urges Hungary to open doors

Apr 30, 2023, 8:00 PM

Pope Francis arrives for a mass in Kossuth Lajos' Square in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, April 30, 20...

Pope Francis arrives for a mass in Kossuth Lajos' Square in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, April 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Pope Francis urged Hungarians to open their doors to others on Sunday, as he wrapped up a weekend visit with a plea for Europe to welcome migrants and the poor and for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Francis issued the appeal from the banks of the Danube as he celebrated Mass on Budapest’s Kossuth Lajos Square, with the Hungarian Parliament and Budapest’s famed Chain Bridge as a backdrop. The celebration provided the visual highlight of Francis’ three-day visit that has been dominated by the Vatican’s concern for the plight of migrants and the war in neighboring Ukraine.

Citing local organizers, the Vatican said some 50,000 people attended the Mass, more than 30,000 of them in the square, on a brilliantly sunny spring morning. Among them were President Katalin Novak and Hungary’s right-wing populist prime minister, Viktor Orban, whose lukewarm support for Ukraine has rankled fellow European Union members.

Francis has expressed appreciation for Hungary’s recent welcome of Ukrainian refugees. But he has challenged Orban’s hard-line anti-immigration policies, which in 2015-2016 included building a razor wire fence on the border with Serbia to stop people from entering. Upon arrival, Francis urged Hungary and Europe as a whole to welcome those who are fleeing war, poverty and climate change, calling for safe and legal migration corridors.

“How sad and painful it is to see closed doors,” Francis said in his Sunday homily on the Danube. “The closed doors of our selfishness with regard to others; 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.

“Please, let us open those doors!” he said.

In a final prayer at the end of the Mass, Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine and “a future of hope, not war; a future full of cradles, not tombs; a world of brothers and sisters, not walls.”

The 86-year-old Francis has tried to forge a diplomatic balancing act in his pleas to end Russia’s war, expressing solidarity with Ukrainians while keeping the door open to dialogue with Moscow. On Saturday, he prayed with Ukrainian refugees and then met with an envoy of Russian Patriarch Kirill, who has firmly supported Moscow’s invasion and justified it as a metaphysical battle against the liberal West.

Francis kissed the cross of Metropolitan Hilarion in a sign of respect for the Russian Orthodox Church during what the Vatican said was a “cordial” 20-minute meeting at the Holy See’s embassy in Budapest. Hilarion, who developed good relations with the Vatican as the Russian church’s longtime foreign minister, said he briefed Francis on his work now as the Moscow Patriarchate’s representative in Budapest.

Hilarion attended Francis’ Sunday Mass, along with representatives of Hungary’s other Christian churches and Jewish community, Vatican News said.

Francis’ visit to Hungary, his second in as many years, brought him as close as he’s been to the Ukrainian front but also to the heart of Europe, where Orban’s avowedly right-wing Christian government has cast itself as a bulwark against a secularizing Western world.

Francis, though, has used the visit to call for the continent to find again its spirit of unity and purpose, referencing Budapest’s bridges across the Danube as symbols of unity and connection.

The site for his final Mass couldn’t have been more appropriate for Francis’ message: The sprawling square is named for one of Hungary’s most famous statesmen who served as its first prime minister after the 1848-1849 revolution against Habsburg rule. It is separated from the left bank of the Danube river only by Hungary’s iconic neo-Gothic parliament, the country’s largest building and home of its National Assembly. Nearby is the Chain Bridge, one of several bridges spanning the river and linking the Pest and Buda sides of the city.

Sister Marta, a nun of Hungarian origin from Brazil who attended the Mass, said she hoped Francis’ message of welcome would be heard in Hungary. “We (Brazilians) have gotten accustomed to openness towards others, and we hope that Hungary as well will open in this direction,” she said after the liturgy.

But Budapest resident Erno Sara said the country is fine as it is.

“I don’t know if we (Hungarians) need to change. There is nothing at all in this country that is out of the ordinary, any kind of behavior that we would have to change,” Sara said.

Later Sunday in his final event in Hungary, Francis warned against the dangers of technology dominating human life, during a speech at the Pazmany Peter Catholic University. Speaking broadly about Europe’s future, Francis said culture and scholarship forged by universities were the antidote to a future dictated by technology.

The university, he said, “is a temple where knowledge is set free from the constraints of accumulating and possessing and can thus become culture,” he said. Such a culture he said, cultivates “our humanity and its foundational relationships: with the transcendent, with society, with history and with creation.” ___

Bela Szandelszky contributed to this report.


Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

Dr Kathy Raven, a forensic pathologist testifies about tammy daybell's cause of death...


Forensic pathologist called by defense says Tammy Daybell’s cause of death ‘undetermined’

A forensic pathologist testified in the murder trial of Chad Daybell that the death of his wife, Tammy Daybell, would be best classified as "undetermined."

15 minutes ago

FILE: Crossroads Urban Center is pictured in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. Advocates f...

Ashley Fredde,

Advocates urge officials to include affordable housing in new sports and entertainment district

Crossroads Urban Center wants Salt Lake officials to mandate deeply affordable housing in a new sports and entertainment district.

1 hour ago

Police officers were responding Wednesday to a “confirmed active shooter” in a building at the ...

Sam Herrera

Suspect killed after alleged kidnapping in Millcreek

The Unified Police Department said officers got a call about a suspected kidnapping and hostage situation in Millcreek before the officer-involved shooting.

3 hours ago

An aerial shot shows Maurice Abravanel Hall in Downtown Salt Lake City....

Mariah Maynes

Renovating Abravanel Hall “makes more sense,” petition organizer says

The organizer of a petition to save Abravanel Hall from demolition said that renovating the performance space will be cheaper than demolishing.

5 hours ago

A map shows the location of Turks and Caicos....

Mariah Maynes

Five Americans facing prison time in Turks and Caicos

Five American tourists are facing prison time in Turks and Caicos after traveling to the island with ammunition.

7 hours ago

Former U.S. President Donald Trump returns to the courtroom after a break on the first day of his t...

Sam Herrera

Defense rests case in Trump hush money trial

The defense in the hush money trial rested its case just a day after the prosecution rested.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Pope in final Mass in Budapest urges Hungary to open doors