Pope Francis in Hungary: ‘A man does not become great by rising above others, but by descending to others’

Pope Francis arriving at the location of his open-air mass in downtown Budapest on April 30, 2023. (MTI/Zoltán Máthé)
By Dénes Albert
4 Min Read

Ordinary people and pastors alike should step outside their comfort zone and be open to the world, Pope Francis said at an open-air mass in downtown Budapest, the main event of his three-day visit to Hungary.

“Let the Lord of life into our hearts, and then let us step out and become an open door in society ourselves. Let us be open and welcoming to each other to help Hungary grow on the path of brotherhood and peace,” he said.

“Beloved, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calls us by name and cares for us with infinite tenderness. He is the gate and whoever enters through Him has eternal life: He is our future, the future of abundant life. So let us never be discouraged, never allow ourselves to be robbed of the joy and peace He has given us, never shut ourselves up in problems or indifference,” the pope concluded his speech. “Let us let our Shepherd accompany us! May our lives, our families, our Christian communities and all of Hungary shine with Him in the light of new life!”

Pope Francis arrived in Budapest on Friday morning for a three-day apostolic visit to Hungary. The country is now part of a rare group of countries the pontiff has visited more than once, the other two being Cuba and Greece.

His previous visit was in September 2021, when he led the Holy Mass concluding the 52nd Eucharistic Congress.

While his Hungarian hosts would have liked the pope to also visit the countryside — as did John Paul II in 1996 — the Vatican limited his trip to Budapest, on account of the pontiff’s frail health. Even so, the 86-year-old pope had a grueling schedule, including a meeting with youth in Budapest’s László Papp Sports Arena, which lasted more than three hours. At the event, the pope said to the 11,000-strong audience that “a man does not become great by rising above others, but by descending to others; not at the expense of others, but by serving others.”

Pope Francis meeting 11,000 young Hungarians in Budapest’s László Papp Sports Arena on April 29, 2023. MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák

He also quoted the Hungarian version of the saying “he who dares, wins,” encouraging the young generation: “Don’t be afraid to go against the tide, find time every day for silence, to stop and pray.”

He also met Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, President Katalin Novák and Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, who welcomed him upon his arrival.

The pope additionally met with a group of his fellow Jesuits at his lodging, the apostolic nunciature in Budapest, with whom he had a long and cordial discussion. This was the only event of his three-day visit that was not open to the press.

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