25 years after Pope John Paul II's historic trip to Hungary, the Roman Pontiff confirmed his will visit Budapest on September 12, 2021. A visit during which the head of the Catholic Church is expected to meet with Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, a conservative firmly opposed to the reception of migrants advocated by the Vatican.
“In September, I will be in Hungary, then in Slovakia, pray well for this trip.” A few hours before his hospitalization for a scheduled surgical procedure, the sovereign pontiff spoke, at the end of the Angelus of July 4, 2021, of his next apostolic trip to Central Europe.
A certain vagueness initially surrounded the progress of Pope Francis's trip to Hungary, several sources echoing the reluctance of the Argentine pontiff to meet - on the sidelines of the International Eucharistic Congress which will end in Budapest on September 12th - a prime minister whose treatment of the migrant crisis is upsetting to the Pope.
The papal announcement comes two days after the signing of a joint declaration between Viktor Orban and some 15 political parties representing the entire spectrum of the European conservative right.
A declaration which “concerns the future of the EU, the protection of nations, families, and traditional Christian values,” explained the head of the Hungarian government, who along with Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini, calls for a “mechanism for the protection of member states with the participation of national constitutional courts,” a way of bypassing the Luxembourg Court of Justice, which has censored several Hungarian and Polish laws against homosexuality, deemed contrary to the “rule of law,” periphrasis which in fact designates the dominant progressive ideology.
Questioned by a Croatian weekly, a few weeks ago Viktor Orban mentioned the visit of Peter's successor to his country: “as head of state, he (the Pope) is entitled to the greatest respect, and as he also comes as head of the Catholic Church; we will receive him with Christian humility. The Eucharistic Congress is not a Hungarian event, but an international event organized by Hungary, in which the Pope will participate.”
A statement all the more interesting given that the Hungarian head of government, married to a Catholic, is of the Protestant faith.
Aware of the distance that separates him from the Argentine pontiff on the issue of migrants, Viktor Orban remains convinced that immigration is not a good thing: “It is bad to not stay in your own country, on the pretext that you cannot find personal happiness there,” explained the Hungarian Prime Minister.
“Sometimes,” he added, “it happens that someone is forced to leave their country because otherwise they will be killed, enslaved, imprisoned, or starved. These reasons are quite possible. But even when someone leaves their home under such circumstances, the goal is for them to return as soon as possible.”
The meeting between Peter's successor and the Hungarian chief executive may be brief, but it will surely be closely followed by European countries and the international press.