A meeting with dictatorial Viktor Orbán would tarnish Pope Francis’ reputation

Will Pope Francis meet Hungary’s far-right authoritarian Viktator?   Well, it depends who do you ask.

Orbán controlled Hungarian media claims that Francis will meet Hungarian President János Áder and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on the morning of September 12 at the Museum of Fine Arts. (Click here to read)  The Pope himself never expressed desire to meet Orbán who desperately needs a photo op with the Pope to win over Hungary’s Catholic voters. (Read more about the visit here)

Now Pope Frances says that he is not sure about any meeting with the Hungarian leader.  When asked about it this what he said:

“I don’t know if I am going to meet him. I know that authorities will come to greet me. I am not going to the center of Budapest, but to the place of the [Eucharistic] Congress, and there is a hall where I will meet with the bishops, and there I will receive the authorities who will come. I don’t know who will come. The president I know because he was at the Mass in Transylvania, that part of Romania where they speak Hungarian, a beautiful Mass in Hungarian, and he came with a minister. I think it wasn’t Orbán…”  (Read the interview with the Pope here)

Just recently, the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Viktor Orbán clashed on immigration at the Bled Strategic Forum.  Not a good sign just a week ahead of the pope’s trip to Budapest.

Cardinal Parolin and Orbán sat on the same stage in Slovenia responding to questions about the EU and migration.  The Vatican’s top diplomat said that   “It’s not an easy task, but I think that we share the view that migration is a common problem … and should be tackled together. No nation and no state, no government, should be left alone to face this problem, but it has to be a common policy of the European Union.”

Orbán on the other hand pounded the table that the EU was “to give all the rights back to the nation states in relation to migration.”  He added that “If we invite others from outside Europe, that will change the cultural identity of Europe. There are some countries who accept it. Hungary is not among the countries.”

It seems that Cardinal Parolin was annoyed.  The Vatican’s call for a common EU policy on migration is in sharp contrast with Orbán’s borderline xenophobe outburst on the panel. The Holy See supports countries with a focus on the positive effects of migration and peaceful integration of immigrants into societies putting Christian fraternity in the center of the discussion.

Pope Francis will arrive in Budapest on the morning of Sept. 12 and will spend only seven hours in the country.  Orbán will do every communication trick to produce a photo with the Pope.  Francis should remember his last century predecessor Pope Pius XII whose gradual appeasement policies toward far-right dictators tarnished the image of Papacy for decades.

He should avoid contact with Viktor Orbán and denounce the policies of current Hungarian government.

György Lázár

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