In a strong appeal to Europe and the world, Pope Francis asked on Sunday upon his arrival in Budapest «promote together an education for fraternity, so that the outbreaks of hatred that want to destroy it do not prevail ».
In his address to the leaders of all the Christian churches in Hungary, international ecumenical bodies and the Jewish community – persecuted and practically annihilated before the general indifference during the Holocaust -, the Holy Father added: “I think of the threat of anti-Semitism, which still winds its way in Europe and elsewhere.”
In his opinion, «it is a wick that must be turned off, and the best way to deactivate it is work positively together; is to promote
fraternity”. Although it addressed very serious issues, the atmosphere of the meeting was familiar, and Francisco had broken the initial ice by apologizing for reading his speech sitting down “because I’m not 15 years old anymore.” He is no less than 84 but, even so, he had decided to take the flight from Rome at six in the morning.
The pope spoke in a country of strong nationalist and xenophobic drift, shortly after having dedicated a courtesy meeting of fifteen minutes to the President of the Republic, János Áder, accompanied by the Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, a Calvinist Christian, who immediately uploaded the photo of the handshake to his Facebook page and stated, in his political line, having asked the Pope “not to let Christian Hungary perish.”
It was a meeting of five people, as they were present on Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, monseñor Paul Richard Gallagher.
According to the Vatican, they spoke “of the role of the Church, the protection of the environment and the protection of the family”, without references to immigration, refugees or justice. With the protocol greetings and the presentation of the companions of each delegation, the total time dedicated to the authorities was forty minutes.
The reality is that the government has not invited the Holy Father to visit HungaryBut only at the closing of the International Eucharistic Congress, and that is the reason why Francis spends only a few hours in the country before flying to Bratislava and spending the night in Slovakia, where he will stay for three days.
In his words of greeting to the Pope at the beginning of the ecumenical meeting, the Chief Rabbi of Hungary, Róbert Fröhlich, recalled that “both Jews and Christians know what it means to be foreigners and to be persecuted for our faith.” Fortunately, and as an example to the world, “in recent decades, Jews and Christians have done much to break down the walls that separate us and to see in the other not a foreigner but a friend, a brother of the human community.”
It was a good summary of some of the ideas in the encyclical “Fratelli tutti”, increasingly essential in a world of tense societies. And Pope has continued that line by assigning religious leaders a new constructive task.
According to Francisco, “you, who represent the majority religions, have the task of favoring the conditions so that the religious freedom of all is respected and promoted. That no one can say that words of division come from the lips of men of God but only messages of openness and peace.
Shortly afterwards, during the homily of the closing mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in the spectacular Plaza de los Héroes, the Holy Father invited Christians to “follow the same path as the Master, who came to serve and not to be served. ».
Francis added that “the International Eucharistic Congress is a point of arrival of a roadBut let us make it a starting point above all, because the path in pursuit of Jesus invites us to look ahead ».
It was the second time that he used that image, since shortly before he had said goodbye to the Christian and Jewish leaders with the words of a pilgrim: “Thank you, and have a good journey.”
Appointment in Santiago de Compostela
During the flight from Rome to Budapest, the Pope had received as a gift a road sign with the indication «Roma-Santiago 1,726 Km». It was a new sympathetic message from Eva Fernández, a correspondent for the COPE network, to remind her that she has an appointment in Compostela in August 2022.
Shortly afterwards, greeting two other Spanish journalists, Francisco commented that the recent interview with Carlos Herrera on the COPE network “was all Eva’s work. As José Beltrán has written in Vida Nueva, Eva is ‘the one with 24 hours available, the one who always leaves the way, the one who always gives her voice’. It is so!
Despite the early rise, the Pope He looked rested and was in a very good mood. Along these lines, he asked a Spanish journalist if in a recent book on the Vatican there was “a chapter dedicated to the Vatican mafia,” while accompanying the joke with a laugh.
Although brief, the Budapest stage It has been very pleasant for all the participants. During the ‘popemobile’ tour of the beautiful city center, hundreds of thousands of people greeted Francisco with visible joy on a sunny day that enhanced the party atmosphere.
In his farewell, at the end of Mass, the Pope addressed a very special thanks to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, “Brother who honors us with his presence”, and recalled that “today, not far from here, in Warsaw, two witnesses of the Gospel are proclaimed blessed: Cardinal Esteban Wyszynski and Isabel Czacka, founder of the Franciscan Sisters Servants of the Cross, who lost her sight at a young age and dedicated her entire life to helping the blind.
After a short flight from Budapest, the late afternoon program in Bratislava plans an ecumenical meeting and a meeting with the Jesuits of Slovakia in the apostolic nunciature, which will be the residence of the Pope during his three days in the country.