04/28/2023, 17.55
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In Budapest, Pope urges Europe to promote peace and openness, slams abortion and gender culture

Francis arrived in Hungary for his apostolic journey. In his address to the authorities, he warned against “adolescent belligerence " and bemoaned the absence of "creative peace efforts" on Ukraine. He also rejected“self-referential forms of populism” and “the baneful path taken by those forms of ‘ideological colonization’” that place reductive concepts of freedom “before the reality of life”.

Budapest (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis landed in Budapest, the Hungarian capital, around 10 am this morning, for a three-day apostolic visit.

After a private meeting with Hungarian President Katalin Novák, the pontiff met with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, with whom he spoke for over 20 minutes, at the seat of his office, a former Carmelite monastery.

This was followed by his first public address, to the authorities, representatives of civil society and the diplomatic corps. In it, the Holy Father made a strong plea to Europe to play its “proper role” in the face of the wounds of war in Ukraine. "Where are the creative peace efforts today?” he asked.

From the heart of the continent, he spoke about the future of the European Union, which must stand guard against populism and remain open to those who come desperately knocking at its doors; also warning against a “vapid, ‘supranationalism’ that loses sight of the life of its peoples” and certain baneful “ideological colonizations” in matters like abortion and the so-called gender culture.

Speaking about Budapest, a “city of history, a city of bridges and a city of saints," Pope Francis mentioned its long history, its splendour during the Belle Époque, but also the wounds from the Nazi and communist dictatorships. “How can we forget the events of 1956?” he said.

Above all, for Francis, a message of unity lies at the city’s foundations, with the merger of three different cities 150 years ago: Buda and Óbuda west of the Danube and Pest on the opposite bank.

Taking this as his cue, the pope noted that, “In the post-war period, Europe, together with the United Nations, embodied the noble hope that, by working together for a closer bond between nations, further conflicts could be avoided.”

Today, however, the “passionate quest of a politics of community and the strengthening of multilateral relations seems a wistful memory from a distant past. We seem to be witnessing the sorry sunset of that choral dream of peace, as the soloists of war now take over.

“More and more, enthusiasm for building a peaceful and stable community of nations seems to be cooling, as zones of influence are marked out, differences accentuated, nationalism is on the rise and ever harsher judgments and language are used in confronting others.”

Internationally, “politics serves more to stir up emotions rather than to resolve problems, as the maturity attained after the horrors of the war gives way to regression towards a kind of adolescent belligerence.”

To turn this around, “Europe is crucial”, for it is “called to take up its proper role, which is to unite those far apart, to welcome other peoples and to refuse to consider anyone an eternal enemy.

In Budapest, Francis cited De Gasperi and Schuman, and their insistence on the need for “creative efforts" to promote peace. “At the present time, those dangers are many indeed; but I ask myself, thinking not least of war-torn Ukraine, where are creative efforts for peace?”

Budapest, as a city of bridges, offers an opportunity to reflect "on the importance of unity”, which is “not the same as uniformity".

“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.”

“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.”

In the pontiff’s view, Europe should be “centred on the human person and its peoples, with effective policies for natality and the family – policies that are pursued attentively” in Hungary. But the same applies to bridges, extended to the people knocking at Europe's doors.

As a reminder to the Hungarian people, Pope Francis mentioned some of the saints who have marked the history of Budapest; Saint Elizabeth, for example, the princess "who died at twenty-four years of age after renouncing all her possessions and distributing everything to the poor” [. .. ], an outstanding witness to the Gospel” who “devoted herself and ministered to the sick in the hospice that she had built.”

Francis thanked Hungarian authorities for promoting “charitable and educational works inspired by these values.”

While acknowledging that “Cooperation between the State and the Church has proved fruitful,” he also added that it requires “a careful distinction between their proper spheres” [. . .] taking the Gospel as their point of reference, freely embracing the liberating teachings of Jesus without yielding to a sort of ‘collaborationism’ with a politics of power.”

What is needed, thus, is a “sound sense of ‘laicity’ that does not degenerate into the widespread ‘laicism’ that is allergic to any aspect of the sacred, yet ready to sacrifice itself at the altars of profit”. For Hungarians, the pope noted, this ought to mean going “along two fundamental tracks: acknowledging ourselves to be beloved children of the Father and loving one another as brothers and sisters.”

As Saint Stephen, Hungary’s first king, said to his son, “welcome strangers with benevolence and [. . .] hold them in esteem, so that they prefer to be with you rather than elsewhere”.

“The issue of acceptance and welcome is a heated one in our time, and is surely complex. Nonetheless, for those who are Christians, our basic attitude cannot differ from that which Saint Stephen recommended to his son, having learned it from Jesus,” Francis said.

“When we think of Christ present in so many of our brothers and sisters who flee in desperation from conflicts, poverty and climate change, we feel bound to confront the problem without excuses and delay.”

In Budapest the pontiff ended his address by stressing the urgency for “Europe, to work for secure and legal corridors and established processes for meeting an epochal challenge that is ineluctable and needs to be acknowledged, in order to prepare a future that, unless it is shared, will not exist.”

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