The Hungarian primate, bishop of Budapest, how now welcomed Francis twice in two years.
“Thank you, Holy Father, for bringing us the message of dialogue and peace that is particularly timely today,” said Cardinal Péter Erdö, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, at the end of the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Kossuth Lajos Square in the center of the Hungarian capital on April 30, 2023, the third and final day of his 41st apostolic journey.
The Hungarian primate, an important figure in the conservative trend of the Catholic Church in Europe and often touted as a potential papabile, thanked Pope Francis for having “the courage to go to the peripheries,” as Hungary constitutes “the eastern confines of Western Christianity.”
Cardinal Erdö thanked the Pope for “visiting the poor and the refugees, who came to us from neighboring Ukraine,” as well as “sick children and young people who represent the greatest challenge and opportunity for our Church.”
“You have come to meet our people who have adhered with affection to Western Christianity for a thousand years,” the Hungarian cardinal recalled, regretting that the West has “forgotten” this heritage.
“The people living along the Danube have learned that the great river is not only a border, but that it can connect the peoples of the North and the South, the East and the West, if we know how to build bridges with wisdom,” he explained in his speech.
Very committed to dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church, represented at this Mass by Metropolitan Hilarion, the Primate of Hungary evoked the memory of the King of Hungary, “Saint Stephen, venerated today by the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church,” because he “announced Christ at a time when the Churches of the East and West were still in full communion.”
As a sign of the particular influence of Hungary and its primate, Cardinal Erdö hosted the second visit of Pope Francis to his diocese in less than two years: he had already received him in Budapest on September 12, 2021, on the occasion of the closing of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress.