During a visit to Hungary on Sunday, Pope Francis warned of “lurking” anti-Semitism in Europe, where he met the populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
Speaking to Christian and Jewish leaders, Francis said that the threat of anti-Semitism “is still lurking in Europe and elsewhere,” they said BBC. “This is a fuse that shouldn’t burn. And the best way to defuse this is to work together positively and promote brotherhood, ”he said.
The Orbán government is accused of promoting anti-Semitism, Islamic and homophobia. In 2017, his government was heavily criticized for posting thousands of billboards across the country with a picture of Jewish financier George Soros and the slogan “Let’s not laugh for the last time Soros”. Orbán has rejected the anti-Semitism allegations made against him.
Orbán has also often portrayed his government as the defender of Christian Europe against migration.
But the Pope, who urged countries to do more to help refugees, urged Hungary to “hold out arms against everyone”.
“Religious feelings were the elixir of life of this nation, which is so tied to its roots.” he said. “The cross planted in the earth not only invites us to be well rooted, it also raises and stretches its arms to everyone.”
The Vatican said the Pope’s 40-minute meeting with Orbán took place in a “warm atmosphere”.
“Among the various topics discussed were the role of the church in the country, the commitment to environmental protection, the protection and promotion of the family”, Vatican said in a statement.
Orbán wrote on Facebook after the meeting that he had “asked Pope Francis not to let Christian Hungary die”.
Francis spent seven hours in Hungary before traveling to Slovakia, where he will stay for three days.