Seven hours in the land of Viktor Orban.
Pope Francis made a stopover in Budapest this Sunday, not for a state visit but for a major international religious congress.
The head of the Catholic Church nevertheless met the ultra-nationalist Hungarian Prime Minister.
Two men with diametrically opposed visions, particularly on the issue of migrants.
But according to the official Vatican statement, the face-to-face, described as cordial, lasted only 40 minutes and no angry issue was raised.
“J_asked the Pope not to let the Christians of Hungary perish_ “, for his part reported the Prime Minister on his Facebook account, where he also posted a photo of his handshake with the leader of the 1.3 billion Catholics.
Mr. Orban, who presents himself as the number one bulwark in Europe against “the Muslim invasion”, also offered Francis a copy of a letter from 1250 from a Hungarian king sent to the pope at the time, imploring aid from the West against the Tartar warriors threatening Christian Hungary.
Far from politics, the Sovereign Pontiff delighted thousands of pilgrims who had come from all over the country to attend an outdoor mass.
In Budapest’s Heroes’ Square, nearly 100,000 Hungarians gathered.
In his homily, François spoke of “the threat of anti-Semitism which still circulates in Europe and elsewhere”, considering that it was “a fuse that must be extinguished”. Hungary’s Jewish community is the largest in Central Europe with nearly 100,000 members.
The pro-Orban press did not spare him, calling him a “fool” because of his calls for refugee reception and because he lashed out at sovereignty.
To his opponents, the Argentine Pope replies that helping the excluded is an eminently Christian question.