Pope Francis called for open doors and inclusivity during a visit to Hungary on Sunday.
The Hungarian government has long been criticized for its anti-immigration policies and rhetoric that has stoked xenophobia in its country. Concerns over the treatment of minorities in Budapest were heightened on the eve of the pope’s three-day visit when Hungarian President Katalin Novák unexpectedly pardoned a far-right terrorist.
Addressing a large crowd in central Budapest on Sunday morning before concluding his trip, the pope did not directly address Hungarian government policy but was candid about the need to embrace foreigners.
“How sad and painful it is to see closed doors,” the pope said during an open-air mass, pointing to “the closed doors of our indifference towards the disadvantaged and those who suffer; the doors we close to those who are foreign to us or who do not look like us, to migrants or to the poor.
“Please, brothers and sisters, let’s open these doors! ” he added. “Let us try to be – in our words, deeds and daily activities – like Jesus, an open door: a door that never closes in anyone’s face, a door that allows everyone to enter and experience the beauty of the Lord’s love and forgiveness.”
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán – who is not Catholic himself but has close political allies who emphasize their Catholic roots – tried to capitalize on the Pope’s visit, tweeting on Friday that “it’s a privilege to welcome” the pontiff and that “Hungary has a future if it remains on the Christian path.
On Sunday, however, Pope Francis stressed that his message was addressed to Hungary itself.
“I also say this to our lay brothers and sisters, to catechists and pastoral workers, to those who have political and social responsibilities, and to those who simply live their daily life, which sometimes is not easy. Be open doors! he said.
“Be open and inclusive,” the pope added, “then, and in this way, help Hungary grow in brotherhood, which is the way to peace.”