Pope visits Budapest, calls on Hungarians to be open and respectful

Pope Francis has called on people in Hungary to be respectful and open, during his visit to Budapest on Sunday.

Budapest, 12 September 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Pope Francis has called on people in Hungary to be respectful and open, during his visit to Budapest on Sunday.

“My wish is that you may be like this: solid and open, rooted and respectful,” the pope said to tens of thousands of people who came to hear him speak in Heroes’ Square in the Hungarian capital.

Hungary is faithful to its roots, but the pope noted that “the cross also invites us to spread our arms and not to entrench ourselves,” he said as he celebrated the concluding Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress.

The event has drawn Church representatives from across the world to reinforce belief in the Eucharist, a central tenet of the Roman Catholic Church.

Catholics believe that, during the Eucharist ceremony, bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The ceremony hearkens back to the Last Supper, in which Jesus, the founder of Christianity, shared bread and wine with his apostles before being taken away for crucifixion.

Popes rarely celebrate an event like a Mass to end such a congress. It had originally been planned for last year, but was delayed due to the pandemic.

This year, anticipating the high level of interest, the authorities eased the coronavirus rules, so attendees did not have to show proof of a negative coronavirus test or vaccination in order to join in.

Earlier, the pope met Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for a 40-minute talk behind closed doors.

Orban frequently styles himself as a defender of Christianity, but his stance on multiple policies – including ones calling for migrants to be kept out of Hungary – often put him at odds with the pope.

Initially, the only detail released was a Facebook photo shared by Orban. Later, the Vatican issued a statement saying the two men discussed the role of the Church in Hungary, as well as environmental protection.

After meeting Orban, the pope drove through the streets of the city, where he was greeted by the faithful.

Pope Francis also met with leaders of the Jewish community in Budapest. The threat of anti-Semitism continues to ebb and flow in Europe, he said, adding, “this is a fuse that has to be put out.”

The pope said that reaching out to other communities is the only way to extinguish it.

A member of the Jewish group responded that both Christians and Jews need to be aware of the fact that cultures interact.

Francis is set to head to Slovakia on Sunday after his programme in Hungary ends.

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