Pope Francis of the Catholic church based in the Vatican City visited Hungary recently, and its prime minister, Viktor Orban, as part of a Papal trip around Europe. At a mass held in Budapest on Sunday, Francis said “All Hungarians must open their arms for everyone”. Pope Francis and Prime Minister Orban are both polar opposites on the issue of Immigration. For instance, Francis brought 12 Syrian refugees with him to the Vatican after a visit to Greece years ago, while Prime Minister Orban chose to build a fence around Hungary to “keep migrants out”.
Pope Francis shaking hands with Prime Minister Orban in the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts on Sunday (Vatican Media via Associated Press)
The Countries current Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, is quite infamous in Central Europe for his hardline nationalistic immigration policies into the country, and also built a giant fence around the country in 2015 to prevent migrants from entering Hungarian territory. His actions and policies are widely criticized, and the most direct and public criticism so far has come from the Papalcy in the Vatican itself.
Pope Francis made a thinly veiled critique of the nation’s Immigration policies, calling immigrants
“Not a burden or problem, but brothers and sisters who need to be protected”. The Pope soon left Hungary, spending a mere 7 hours in the country before departing for neighboring Slovakia. This move was perceived as a slight, as he would be spending 3 days in Slovakia. However, in Slovakia’s capital of Bratislava, his pro-immigration talk continued from Hungary. Many say that this move comes to attempt to underscore the recently re-surging Nationalistic rhetoric in many European countries, a specific example being Poland. The “Law and Justice” party, also known as “PIS” won a majority of seats in the country’s Parliament after a long electoral battle in 2015. They immediately began enforcing new, Nationalist ideals among the population, and among those were more hardliner stances on immigration into Poland from foreign countries. The Papalcy fears Hungary may be following the same path, or may already be at the end of it.
-Written by Shane Miller