The head of the Catholic Church does not want to personally meet either the Hungarian Prime Minister or the President of the country.
In addition to some big names in international politics, such as the President of the United States or his Secretary of State, it seems like the head of the biggest Church of the world also disagrees with the leaders of Hungary in some questions.
Pope Francis is set to visit the Eucharistic Congress this September which will be held in Budapest. According to an ecclesiastical newspaper, the National Catholic Register,
the Pope does not have the intention to personally meet the two most important people of the Hungarian state.
No meeting with either Prime Minister Viktor Orbán or the President of Hungary, János Áder, is among his plans. This is causing some diplomatic tensions between the country and the Church.
According to several sources from Hungary and from the Vatican itself, many people are trying to convince Pope Francis to decide otherwise. Their aim is to change his mind and his plans and to make him pay a longer visit to Hungary than just a simple morning on September 12. Which would include, of course, at least a small visit of courtesy to Orbán and Áder, despite the Pope wanting to deliberately avoid it.
According to a source from Budapest, the Vatican’s aim to avoid all political meetings, including the one in the Presidential Palace, is causing more and more tensions behind the scenes.
The Register says that
the new plan includes the Pope going directly to the scene of the world congress on the Heroes’ Square and leaving for Bratislava right after the closing mass.
This is not the first occasion that Pope Francis makes his intentions quite clear about not wanting to meet the two politicians. The first time the idea of his visit arose last year, he already made it clear that he was only wishing to pay a visit to the world congress, but nothing more, writes 444.hu. He even said it himself in March that him coming to Hungary “would not be an official visit but a simple mass”.
The Register says that the whole issue made the Hungarian side especially anything but happy, as
after his short and brief cooperation at the congress, the Pope will spend more than three days in Bratislava.
A Hungarian ecclesiastical source from Budapest told the newspaper that
this would not only be offending to the Hungarians but also a “slap in the face” for PM Orbán.
“It would be scandalous! It is as if the Pope was to spend half a day in Israel, only to then go and visit Iran and spend 3 days there. It is unacceptable to everyone!”
Both Cardinal Péter Erdő, the head of the Hungarian Catholic Church, and Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén flew to Rome last week to try to coordinate the Pope’s plans.
Based on the original plan, the Pope’s complete programme should have been made public on May 26, but it did not happen, presumably because of this discussion.
The Register says, and we can all agree with the news site, that there is a political decision behind the Pope’s intention not to meet with Orbán and Áder, including several other members of the Hungarian Catholic Church. The two side’s opinions differ in the question of refugees.
It would not be the first time that the head of the Catholic Church only pays a brief visit to a country; however,
not meeting the head or the leaders of the given country would be something that has never happened before.