Pope Francis

Be open to foreigners, Pope Francis tells Hungarians

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Pope Francis called for open doors and inclusivity during a visit to Hungary on Sunday. 

The Hungarian government has long faced criticism over anti-immigration policies and rhetoric that has stoked xenophobia at home. Concerns about Budapest’s treatment of minorities were exacerbated on the eve of the pope’s three-day visit when Hungarian President Katalin Novák unexpectedly pardoned a far-right terrorist. 

Speaking to a large crowd in central Budapest on Sunday morning before wrapping up his trip, the pope did not directly address the Hungarian government’s policies but was blunt about the need to embrace outsiders. 

“How sad and painful it is to see closed doors,” the pope said at an outdoor mass, pointing to “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, brothers and sisters, let us open those doors!” he added. “Let us try to be — in our words, deeds and daily activities — like Jesus, an open door: a door that is never shut in anyone’s face, a door that enables everyone to enter and experience the beauty of the Lord’s love and forgiveness.” 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán — who is not Catholic himself but has close political allies who emphasize their Catholic roots — has tried to capitalize on the pope’s visit, tweeting on Friday that “it is a privilege to welcome” the pontiff and that “Hungary has a future if it stays on the Christian path.”

On Sunday, however, Pope Francis underscored that his message is directed at Hungary itself. 

“I say this also to our lay brothers and sisters, to catechists and pastoral workers, to those with political and social responsibilities, and to those who simply go about their daily lives, which at times are not easy. Be open doors!” he said. 

“Be open and inclusive,” the pope added, “then, and in this way, help Hungary to grow in fraternity, which is the path of peace.”