Pope Francis spent three days in Hungary last week on an apostolic journey. It was the second time the Pope had visited Hungary, making it a historic event. Of course, the visit was covered in the world press, and Hungary-based Rod Dreher, a publicist for The American Conservative, wrote in an opinion piece that despite their differences, Pope Francis and Viktor Orbán are the only European leaders trying to end the Russia-Ukraine war.
Rod Dreher repeatedly pointed out in his article that Pope Francis and the Hungarian Prime Minister disagree on many issues, including immigration and its management. Still, the Holy Father decided to visit Hungary for a second time, despite being recently hospitalized for illness.
According to the publicist, Pope Francis wants the war to end as soon as possible, and that is why he came to Hungary, among other things, to speak out for peace in several places, adding that in this topic, the Pope is in total agreement with the Hungarian government. On the war in Ukraine, the head of the Catholic Church asked the question “where are the creative efforts for peace?” Peace would be particularly important for Hungarians, since, as Dreher also points out, the country is neighboring Ukraine, so any escalation of the war would pose a serious threat to Hungary.
Besides the war, in his address to government officials and diplomats,
the Pope made another important point, namely that while European unity is necessary, it should not come at the expense of local diversity.
“I think of a Europe that is not hostage to its parts, neither falling prey to self-referential forms of populism nor resorting to a fluid, if not vapid, ‘supranationalism’ that loses sight of the life of its peoples,” the Pope said. He added that “this is the baneful path taken by those forms of ‘ideological colonization’ that would cancel differences, as in the case of the so-called gender theory, or that would place before the reality of life reductive concepts of freedom, for example by vaunting as progress a senseless ‘right to abortion,’ which is always a tragic defeat”, Dreher recalled the words of the head of the Catholic Church.
Rod Dreher also pointed out that the Pope had spoken highly of the Hungarian government’s pro-family measures (not for the first time, by the way), and had set them as an example for the whole of Europe.
It is also important to note that Pope Francis had an unannounced 20-minute meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, the Russian Orthodox Archbishop of Budapest. According to Dreher, the unplanned private meeting with Hilarion “tindered speculation that the Russian prelate might serve as a back channel to convey the Pope’s plea for peace to Moscow”.
Moreover, on the flight home, Pope Francis himself hinted that he had discussed the war in Hungary and that he was taking part in an as yet undisclosed peace mission.
The head of the Catholic Church also called for and prayed for peace at Sunday morning during a mass in Kossuth Square, attended by tens of thousands of people. Here His Holiness spoke of the desire to build peace and said that we need to offer future generations a future of hope and a future full of cradles and not graves.
As Rod Dreher put it in his opinion piece, “Hungary needs friends to help it wage its lonely battle for peace—and there are few allies more visible on this front than the Roman pontiff.”
Featured photo via MTI/Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda/Benko Vivien Cher