Pope Francis urged Hungarians to “open doors” to refugees at the conclusion of his visit to Hungary. The country is currently led by a nationalist anti-immigration cabinet.
The pontiff described it as “sad and painful” to see doors closed to people who were “unlike us”. He said this while addressing a crowd at an outdoor mass in the nation’s capital, Budapest.
Up to 100,000 individuals attended the liturgy, including Viktor Orban, the prime minister.
In order to prevent refugees from entering Hungary, Mr. Orban built a barbed-wire border fence.
Pope Francis urged everyone to be more accessible to others, particularly “those with political and social responsibilities” when speaking to the throng on Sunday outside the Hungarian parliament building.
During the mass, the Argentinian pontiff, 86, also referred to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine launched in February 2022.
He prayed for the “beleaguered Ukrainian people and the Russian people” and for “a future of hope, not war”.
Later, on his flight home, he said the Vatican was involved in a peace mission to try to end the war. “There is a mission in course now but it is not yet public. When it is public, I will reveal it,” he told reporters.
He also said the Vatican was ready to help facilitate the return of Ukrainian children taken to Russia since the invasion. Ukrainian authorities said thousands of Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia and calls it a war crime.
The Pope mentioned he had discussed the Ukraine conflict with Mr Orban and a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The three-day visit was Pope Francis’ first trip to Hungary since he became Pope 10 years ago.