Speaking about the value of “individual freedom and national culture as a rich contribution” to the variety of a Europe of 27 nations, Pope Francis conveyed the critical significance of policies that prioritize people's interests and promote peace, emphasizing that “strategic interests should not be pursued at the expense of others.”
In his speech, Pope Francis voiced concern about the lack of creative efforts toward peace and urged officials to examine policies that prioritize individual and family policies, applauding Hungary's “meticulously developed” effort on this front. He also warned against the perils of “ideological colonialism and narrow concepts of freedom that ignore life's reality,” such as “celebrating the right to abortion as an accomplishment.”
The Pope's visit to Budapest comes at a time when tensions are high in the region, with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine being one of the major concerns.
President Katalin Novák, who welcomed the Pope on the significant occasion, recalled the visit of John Paul II to Hungary in 1996, at a time of great need as well. She expressed her belief that Pope Francis' arrival is “similarly timely” and her hopes that his visit would prove to be a catalyst for peace.
In her opening speech, President Novák expressed her hope that the Pope would be able to talk to leaders in Kyiv, Moscow, Washington, Brussels and Budapest in order to “act personally to bring about a just peace as soon as possible."
Katalin Novák also emphasized the importance of finding people of goodwill and peace-seekers.
The president, quoting the words of the former Prince Primate József Mindszenty, said that "the rise of a nation always begins today," and said she hopes that the Holy Father's visit to Hungary will prove to be “a springboard to this ascent, a high point from which we can see the path to spiritual renewal and peace.”
In addition, President Novák thanked Pope Francis for encouraging and empowering women to start families, raise children and take leadership roles in their communities.
On this, she said that among the gifts to the Holy Father were rose petals from St. Elizabeth, as the life of Saint Elizabeth demonstrates “that women have a special responsibility to show that good governance is not possible without mercy and solidarity with the vulnerable.”
Pope Francis' apostolic journey will continue until April 30 with several public appearances marking the Holy See’s three-day visit to Hungary.