BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Tens of thousands of Hungarians gather in Budapest’s main square on Sunday for Pope Francis’ final Mass as the Pope concludes his weekend visit to the heart of Europe with a plea for peace. and gathered on the banks of the Danube. Put an end to the war in neighboring Russia.
Mass at Kossuth Lajos Square, with the Hungarian Parliament Building and Budapest’s famous Chain Bridge in the background, provided a visual highlight of Francis’ three-day visit, which has been dominated by the Vatican’s concerns over the plight of neighboring Ukraine. .
The Vatican, citing local organizers, said about 50,000 people attended the mass, more than 30,000 of them gathered in the square on a gloriously sunny spring morning. There was President Novak and Hungary’s right-wing populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
After Mass, Francis performed his last events in Budapest before returning to Rome. It is Pazmani Peter’s speech on European culture at his Catholic University.
In his plea to end the war, 86-year-old Francis strikes a diplomatic balance by expressing solidarity with Ukraine while keeping the door open to dialogue with Moscow. On Saturday, he prayed with Ukrainian refugees and met with the special envoy of Russian Patriarch Kirill. Patriarch Kirill adamantly supported the invasion of Moscow, justifying it as a metaphysical warfare against the liberal West.
Francis kissed the cross of Metropolitan Hilarion as a sign of respect for the Russian Orthodox Church when the Vatican described it as a “heartfelt” 20-minute meeting at the Vatican Embassy in Budapest. Hilarion, who has maintained good relations with the Vatican as a long-time Minister of Foreign Affairs in the United States, briefed Francis on his work as a representative of the Moscow Patriarchate in Budapest.
Francis’ visit to Hungary was the second in several years, and he set foot not only on the Ukrainian front, but also in the heart of Europe… the world.
However, Francis used the visit to refer to the Budapest Bridge over the Danube in Budapest as a symbol of unity and connection, calling on the continent to once again find its spirit of unity and purpose.
The location of his final Mass could not have been more fitting for that message. The sprawling square is named after one of Hungary’s most famous politicians, who served as the first prime minister after the revolution against Habsburg rule in 1848-1849. Only Hungary’s iconic Neo-Gothic parliament building is separated from the left bank of the Danube. This parliament building is the largest building in the country and home to the National Assembly. Nearby is the Chain Bridge, one of several bridges over the river, connecting the Pest and Buda sides of the city. ___
AP’s religious coverage is supported through a partnership between AP and The Conversation US with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. AP is solely responsible for this content.
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