Our Largest, Unacknowledged Prejudice
Pope Francis made a seven-hour visit to Hungary over the weekend to preside over the concluding Mass at the International Eucharistic Congress. He also met with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban for almost 40 minutes – more time than had been scheduled and a meeting that had earlier appeared would not take place. The pope and many leaders of the European Union (EU) have sharply criticized Orban – the word “fascist” sometimes surfaces among the politicos – for his defense of traditional values and intention of preserving Hungarian culture and the nation’s Christian character by refusing EU directives about accepting Muslim refugees and economic migrants.
After a 2016 trip to Mexico, Pope Francis made headlines for a comment about then-candidate Donald Trump’s intention of building a wall at the Mexican border. Walls are bad, he said; Christians need to build bridges. Many at the time argued that bridges can be good, in some circumstances. But America and any nation must control its borders unless it wants to invite chaos and conflict. That’s precisely what we’ve been seeing in recent months as hordes of people stream north, believing that the border is open and overwhelming the very refugee services wanting to help them.
So, it was not a surprise that the pope both mentioned a bridge in his Budapest homily and suggested a connection to immigration:
This is what I wish for you: that the cross be your bridge between the past and the future. Religious sentiment has been the lifeblood of this nation, so attached to its roots. Yet the cross, planted in the ground, not only invites us to be well-rooted, it also raises and extends its arms towards everyone. . . .The cross urges us to keep our roots firm, but without defensiveness, to draw from the wellsprings, opening ourselves to the thirst of the men and women of our time.
Francis is a strong advocate for people seeking to enter Europe.