Pope Francis arrived in Hungary this morning for a brief visit, which was expected to highlight differences between the views of the Pope and the nationalist and anti-immigration policies of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Pope Francis only stayed seven hours in the Hungarian capital Budapest, where he officiated the Closing Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress before leaving for Slovakia. There he will stay longer and will visit four cities.
“We are resuming travel and this is very important because we can bring our message and our wishes to the people,” the Pope told reporters on the plane that took him to Budapest, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asked about the recent surgery he underwent, the Pope said he was feeling very well.
The Pope was received at the airport by Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zolt Semgen, Cardinal Peter Erdo and Hungarian bishops, Hungarian public television reported.
The Pope greeted the children who had gone there to wish him well before getting into a car that would take him to the center of Budapest.
According to the Vatican’s agenda, Francis met Hungarian Prime Minister Orban and Hungarian President Janos Ander, as well as with bishops and representatives of some Jewish communities Closing Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress that began last Sunday in Budapest.
The extremely short time he spent in Budapest prompted diplomats and the mass media to suggest that the Pope, who was making his first trip since undergoing surgery in July, was prioritizing Slovakia while snubbing Hungary.
Pope Francis has often denounced what he sees as the resurgence of nationalist and populist movements and has called for European unity while criticizing countries trying to resolve the immigration crisis through unilateral or isolationist actions.