Viktor Orbán criticized for meeting Pope

August 29, 2016

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Pope Francis meeting Viktor Orbán in the Vatican

“The picture shows one of Europe’s biggest Christians protecting the continent from Muslims….next to him stands Pope Francis.”

Comments like this one have been posted on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Facebook page under a photograph of him shaking hands with the the Pope Francis. Some of Orbán’s supporters are not happy with his decision to have an audience with the head of the Roman Catholic Church within the framework of the annual meeting of Catholic lawmakers on Sunday.

Orbán traveled to Rome to participate in talks with Christian leaders from the Middle East on the subject of the persecution of Christians.

A day after the meetings, dozens of Orbán supporters turned to Facebook to express their dissatisfaction with Pope Francis and his position on refugees.

“I hope he [Orbán] enlightens the Pope that he is supporting the wrong people,” wrote one comment.

“They say the dear Pope has secretly converted to Islam. He is a monster! A real Christian will do anything against Muslim scum,” said another.

A third Facebook user suggested that Pope Francis was elected with the support of billionaire George Soros, clearly proving that the government’s hate campaign against migrants is working.

Among the hateful comments was the following:

“Prime Minister!  The Hungarian Church of Hate which you founded is striking back.  Think about what you have done with the country!”

Rejecting the Pope’s position

Since the start of the migration crisis, the Pope has often reminded Catholics of their moral obligation to help refugees. Last September he called on every Catholic parish to take in one of the thousands of families fleeing conflict and poverty. This April, he visited the Greek island of Lesbos and its refugee camps, taking three families back to the Vatican with him.

A week ago parliamentary faction leader of the Christian Democratic People’s Party (Kereszténydemokrata Néppárt – KDNP) Péter Harrach explained that whereas Pope Francis speaks of people in need and those persecuted in their homes, his party is speaking out against the “migrant flows endangering our country”.

The politician, a Catholic, thinks the words of Pope Francis concerning refugees are not a part of “official church doctrine”, meaning Catholics are not obliged to identify with them.

“This cannot alter their faith in the institution of the Church, but such a rude labelling coming from the outside can hurt them with good reason,” Harrach said. “For the Pope is mainly a spiritual and not a political leader. Identifying with sufferers definitely detracts from other responsibilities which we find important, namely the protection against migrant flows. We are, of course, not very happy about this.”

The Pope’s position on migrants was also attacked by Fidesz publicist Zsolt Bayer, who called the pontiff a “villain” for supporting refugees.