Pope to Hungarian pilgrims: 'The gift of peace begins in our hearts'

Meeting Hungarian pilgrims in the Vatican, Pope Francis encourages them to be men and women of peace and to continue to safeguard their Christian identity, and thanks the Hungarian Church for welcoming Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.

Apr 26, 2024

Pope Francis meeting the Hungarian pilgrims in the Paul VI Hall (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

By Lisa Zengarini
1,200 pilgrims from Hungary, accompanied by several bishops and Hungarian authorities visited the Vatican on Thursday morning for a special encounter with Pope Francis, marking the first anniversary of his Apostolic Journey to the nation.

The Pope visited Hungary 28-30 April 2023, where he had already been for a brief stop on his way to Slovakia on 12 September 2021 to close the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in the country's capital Budapest.

During his intense three-day journey, he addressed authorities, civil society and the diplomatic corps; young people; bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians and pastoral workers; and representatives of the academic and cultural world. He also met with refugees and poor people, and visited the children of the Blessed László Batthyány-Strattmann Institute.

“I was a pilgrim to pray together with you. Pray for Europe, for 'the desire to build peace, to give the young generations a future of hope, not of war; a future full of cradles, not tombs; a world of brothers, not of walls'”

Follow the example of your Saints and Blesseds to build peace
Welcoming the pilgrims in the Paul VI Hall, after a brief meeting with the new President of Hungary, Mr. Tamás Sulyok,  Pope Francis, recalled how he came to their country first of all as a pilgrim to pray with them for their nation and for Europe, threatened by the spectre of war looming again within its borders.

“In prayer it s ialways possible to find the strength and determination to follow the example of the Saints and Blesseds born from your people, even in the current historical context,” the Pope remarked, reminding the Hungarian pilgrims that the gift of peace “begins in the heart of each of us”, and comes “when I decide to forgive, even if it is difficult, and this fills my heart with joy.”

The Pope hence entrusted the Hungarian Church to the intercession of Mary, the “Magna Domina Hungarorum”, of Saint Stephen, Saint Ladislaus, Saint Elizabeth, Saint Emeric , so it may be “strengthened in the ardour of testimony” and in the joy of announcing the Gospel.

Adopt God's style of closeness and compassion
Pope Francis went all to recall that he also came as a brother to encourage the Hungarian Catholics to adopt the "style of God" as an attitude and life-style ”which is made of tenderness, closeness and compassion,” heeding the examples of the several Hungarian Blesseds who sacrificed their lives under the  Nazi and Communist regimes.

“Don't forget this: God's style is tenderness, closeness and compassion.”

Safeguard your Christian roots
Finally, Pope Francis remembered that he visited Hungary as a friend, recalling in particular his encounter with the Hungarian young people, whom he had encouraged to safeguard their roots to lay “solid foundations for the future.”

He reiterated that invitation to those present at the audience: “By safeguarding your roots – he said - you will be able to look forward with confidence, strengthening yourself in the values that give life: family, unity, peace.”

Gratitude for welcoming Ukrainian refugees
Recalling his meeting with refugees, the poor and the marginalized in Hungary, he reiterated his appreciation to the Hungarian Church for welcoming Ukrainian refugees fleeing war and for its efforts to integrate those who live on the margins of society.

“Let us walk together on the path of the Lord as "Easter" men and women, and let us recognize Him in the breaking of bread, at the Eucharistic table and at that of the hungry”

Concluding his speech, Pope Francis thanked the Hungarian pilgrims for their loyalty to Christ, “manifested in the testimony of faith and in lived ecumenism, in relationships with your neighbours, in welcoming charity even for those who are different, in respect for every human life and in responsible care for the environment.”--Vatican News

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