Francis in Hungary: how to interpret the papal visit?

Pope Francis begins his three-day visit to the Hungarian capital Budapest today. In addition to meetings with representatives of government and the Catholic Church, Francis will also meet with refugees, children and young people. Commentators discuss what this visit means for Hungary and beyond.

Open/close all quotes
Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Perhaps he’ll meet Putin’s rebellious Metropolitan

Lidové noviny wonders whether the Pope might also meet with Hilarion, the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church in Hungary. Hilarion held a key post in the Moscow Patriarchate until his replacement in June 2022:

“The Orthodox bishop headed the foreign department of the Moscow Patriarchate, and was responsible for spreading the ideology of the 'Russian world' ... This idea served as a pretext for Putin to invade Ukraine. However, Hilarion indirectly opposed the invasion as it progressed, lost his post and was banished to Budapest. If the Pope were to meet with him or even exchange a few words, that would be a great gesture on Francis's part.”

Népszava (HU) /

Not a pope who promotes exclusion

Pope Francis thinks differently from those who want to appropriate him, says Népszava:

“[Pro-government media] are trying to debase the Pope's visit, turning it into a political event. They want to show the Vatican and the world what a Christian nation we are, but at the same time exclude others. ... But Pope Francis is a true, authentic follower of Christ. He has so often condemned ideologies that lead to the exclusion of others. He has criticised the 'siren voices' of populism and the sovereigntism that is the mantra of the Hungarian government.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

With the Pope against the EU

The Vatican visit strengthens Hungary in its tug-of-war with Brussels, the pro-government Magyar Nemzet believes:

“The Pope is our true ally, and we are also his good allies in protecting children and rejecting all the nonsense about gender. Of course, the question is whether the peculiar EU rulers will also be our allies when it comes to this thoroughly pro-European and peacemaking stance. Will they not ultimately classify this strengthening of Christianity as un-Christian? But it doesn't really matter because it will not stop the spread of family-centred thinking. If the Holy Father is for us, who can be against us?”

Telex (HU) /

He brings us all together

It is not just for devout Christians that the Pope is visiting Hungary, says Catholic priest and theologian Csaba Török in Telex:

“Whom has the Pope come to see here? The good Catholics? The priests, monks and bishops? The politicians of Christian persuasion? ... Or perhaps other people too? ... Those whom we despise? Those we hate with a loathing fuelled by 'Christian love'? ... Those who seek their happiness according to a different set of values? ... I hope that the Pope is coming to all of us and that this 'we' includes all of us.”