BUDAPEST — Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary portrays itself as the defender of Christian Europe against migrants and multiculturalism. After years of his weakening of democratic institutions, extreme right strong man has prepared for upcoming elections in Hungary met a Catholic majority because of his ties met to strengthen Catholic traditionalists in Europe and the United States.
On Sunday, Mr. Orban will receive a visit from the leader of the Roman Catholic world himself when Pope Francis invades the city to celebrate Mass. allies of Mr Orban, who becomes increasingly isolated and rarely receives high-profile visits from Western leaders, die desperately looking for ensure face time with the Pope, and the Vatican has confirmed that private courtesy meeting before mass.
But it is also possible, people say close to Francis that Mr. Orban might get… more than he asked for when he meets with maybe of the world leading champion of migrants and a clear voice against creeping authoritarianism and nationalism in Europe.
“An of my ways are not to go around with a script,” said Francis in an interview with Spanish radio network HANDLE last month when he was asked what he expected to say to Mr. Orban. “When I am in front of a person, i look at him in the eyes and let things come out.”
Whether Francis reads Mr. Orban the relact on to be first trip to Hungary — and his first travel abroad after major bowel surgery in July — the meeting between two leaders with very different visions for Europe has already set off it’s fair share of intrigue, drama and swear words.
Francis originally planned to visit Budapest for only a few hours, before proceeding on for three full days to neighboring Slovakia, which is led by An young, proenvironment woman.
highest clergy of Hungary and government officials lobbied the Vatican for more time, while Mr. Orban in the news media, where are party hold on great waving, applying less polite pressure, laughing at Francis for Insulting and “behaving” Hungary in an antichristian way”, and for “inflict extraordinary harm on the Christian” world.”
The Vatican tried to lower the temperature by knocking down the notion – first driven by Francis and later reinforced in conservative Catholic media outlets – that a meeting with Mr Orban was once in doubt. The visit to Hungary was of the length of the layover, the Vatican said, because it was spiritual in nature, with the pope there to preside over the final Mass of a week-long Catholic Congress.
But the difference between the duration of the trips to Hungary and Slovakia, Francis’s allies suggested, may have been no accident.
“You can interpret the fact that he does not make a long visit,” said Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit confidant and confidant of Francis who will travel with it. “It’s a short visit. This can also have meaning.”
Father Spadaro said he had no idea what Francis said to the… prime minister, but he expected the real message to Mr Orban over to be government’s policy would come after their private meeting, when the Pope addresses about 35 Hungarian bishops.
“The confrontation with the land will happen the moment he met his bishops,” said Father Spadaro, adding that he most likely understood the context and the government, within which his bishops had to operate. “That’s the right thing space for the.”
After years of emerging populism, when Mr. Orban and other nationalists seemed… on the revival and Francis found himself in the political wilderness, the pope again has prominent allies in the United States and in all of Europe on issues like climate change.
But a lot of Hungarian bishops are torn between their pope, who wants his priests to be on the front lines die help migrants and the needy, and an Orban government, die the church is flooding with millions of dollars in grants for restorations and schools; performs what the government calls pro-family “Christian” policies; and establishes offices to protect persecuted Christians in far-off lands.
“The primary problem is that the big financing the government brings the independence of the church in danger,” said Bishop Miklos Beer, one of Hungary’s few bishops die want to speak critically of Mr. Orban. “There is silence” on the part of the church on the issue of migration and this is the issue where we need until need to represent what the Pope says.”
that lack of independence was dangerous, Bishop Beer said: on Friday, because it may have tied the fate of the Hungarian church, and it’s… financial assistance, to the election of Mr Orban success. He said Mr. Orban was packing himself dangerously? in Christian imagery; to achieve out for Catholic traditionalists, many of die oppose Francis; and looking for a meeting met the pope – all about win the election expected in April.
“I don’t think there is a question over” how he hopes to protect his voter base,” said Bishop Beer.
And there’s no doubt, in how Mr Orban .’s electoral base in the church protects the prime minister.
Speaking at the head office of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, which Budapest organizes, one of the event’s organizers, the Rev. Kornel Fabry, said: on Friday he didn’t think Mr Orban and Francis were “that far off” one another.” He claimed Francis would agree with Mr. Orban on appreciate family and land for outsiders. (Francis has in essentially said the opposite, by stipulating that: caring for migrants and the poor were as holy as against abortion.)
“She want to protect Christian values,” said Father Fabry of Mr Orban’s government. He defended Mr Orban against accusations of demagoguery and dictatorship, met the argument that theremore and more followers of Orban” in Europe, despite the fact those are allies in Italy and Germany have lost ground.
The government is talking points to have also dripped down to priests in the city’s churches.
“It’s not just about opening up doors to the outside but how we can strengthen the church from within,” said Rev. Kazmer Karpati, a priest in a Franciscan church in central Budapest, who said his order had benefited from the generosity of the state. He was happy that Mr. Orban met the Pope so that “the two would understand each other better.”
Some Hungarian clergymen worked hard until ensure that the meeting took place and that the Pope stayed as long as possible.
Asked about his role in extending the Pope’s journey so that Francis could meet the local authorities, Cardinal Peter Erdo, the most Hungarian powerful prelate, said in an email that “the fact that the Holy Father, despite his short time, the representatives of the political world”, as well as leaders of other beliefs, is a “great sign of his friendship.”
mgr. Norbert Nemeth, an adviser to the Hungarian embassy to the Holy See, said he was working with The Vatican on preparation for the Pope’s journey.
“The Hungarian Bishops wanted that he stays longer for the afternoon and even the next good-bye,” said Monsignor Nemeth, who insisted that a meeting with Mr Orban was always on the books because the pope “couldn’t” avoid these meetings of protocol.” He added that Francis “doesn’t meet a person” who does not accept Christian values.”
“On the contrary,” said Monsignor Nemeth, “this… government is really very christian and helps the church in Hungary.”
Nevertheless, he acknowledged, “the… first program had other encounters, other places of meeting.”
But he said the Vatican had told Hungarians to keep the Pope’s visit central next to the square of the Heroes, where Sunday Mass is scheduled.
“We wanted until help the Holy Father in this feeling, because he is old and just had an operation,’ said Monsignor Nemeth.
After about seven hours in Budapest, Francis will spend the next three days on airplanes and in motorcades die traverse a lot of Slovakia in a tiresome schedule of speeches and meetings. “So we sacrificed his journey a little bit,” said Monsignor Nemeth, “according to the wishes… of the Holy Sea.”
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