In Hungary, Pope Maintains Neutrality on War in Ukraine

Francis meets with refugees as well as Russian church envoy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 29, 2023 2:20 PM CDT
In Hungary, Pope Maintains Neutrality on War in Ukraine
People wait Pope Francis outside the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Budapest, Hungary, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Denes Erdos)

Pope Francis plunged into both sides of Russia's war against Ukraine on Saturday, greeting some of the 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees who fled across the border to Hungary during a public prayer service and then meeting privately with an envoy of the Russian Orthodox Church that has strongly supported the war. Francis maintained the Vatican's tradition of diplomatic neutrality during his second day in Budapest, where he's on a weekend visit to minister to Hungary's Catholics. Starting the day, he thanked Hungarians for welcoming the refugees and urged them to help anyone in need. He called for a culture of charity in a country where the prime minister has justified firm anti-immigration policies with fears that migration threatens Europe's Christian culture, the AP reports.

Speaking in the white-brick St. Elizabeth's church, named for a princess who renounced her wealth to care for the poor, Francis recalled that the Gospel instructs Christians to show love and compassion to all, especially those experiencing poverty and including nonbelievers. "The love that Jesus gives us and commands us to practice can help to uproot the evils of indifference and selfishness from society, from our cities and the places where we live—indifference is a plague—and to rekindle hope for a new, more just and fraternal world, where all can feel at home," he said. Hungary's nationalist government has implemented anti-immigration policies and refused to accept many asylum-seekers trying to cross its southern border, leading to prolonged legal disputes with the European Union.

Immediately after greeting and encouraging the refugees, Francis visited the Greek Catholic church next door, which has been providing aid to refugees. He then met with the Russian Orthodox Church’s representative in Hungary, Metropolitan Hilarion. The Vatican said the 20-minute meeting at the Holy See's embassy in Budapest was cordial. The Russian church's strong support for the Kremlin's war has rankled the Vatican and prevented a second papal meeting with Patriarch Kirill. The meeting was planned for June but indefinitely postponed over Kirill's support for the war.

(Read more Pope Francis stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.