Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Pope Francis delivers his speech during a mass in Kossuth Lajos' Square in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, April 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

BUDAPEST, Hungary (CNS) -- To be Christian is to be open and welcoming to others, Pope Francis said as he celebrated Mass outside Hungary's Parliament building.

"We, like Jesus, must become open doors. How sad and painful it is to see closed doors," especially the "closed doors of our selfishness," isolationism and indifference to the poor and the sick, he said at the Mass April 30 in Budapest's Kossuth Lajos Square.

In a country that has assisted hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing war but otherwise maintains a "no migrants" policy, the pope decried "the doors we close toward those who are foreign or unlike us, toward migrants or the poor."

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and President Katalin Novák, who have promoted the migration restrictions, were among the estimated 50,000 people attending the Mass.

Akos Ugron, wearing his Malteser International jacket over his Scout leader's uniform, said the Mass was exactly what he had hoped for from Pope Francis' visit -- "that we would be all together. Many have come from the far parts of the country."

Like his fellow Hungarian volunteers with the Knights of Malta's humanitarian organization, he has assisted Ukrainians crossing the border. He said, though, he agrees with the government that migrants must enter the country only legally.

Pope Francis returned to the topic of borders and welcome at the end of Mass before leading the recitation of the "Regina Coeli" prayer.

Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest had described Hungary as being "the eastern border of Western Christianity for a thousand years."

Pope Francis commented, "It is a beautiful thing when borders do not represent boundaries that separate, but points of contact, and when believers in Christ emphasize first the charity that unites us, rather than the historical, cultural and religious differences that divide us."

Before leading the Marian prayer, he told people in the square he wanted to entrust to Mary "the faith and the future of the entire continent of Europe, which has been on my mind in these days and, in particular, the cause of peace."

"Blessed Virgin," he prayed, "watch over the people who suffer so greatly. In a special way, watch over the neighboring, beleaguered Ukrainian people and the Russian people, both consecrated to you."

"Instill in the hearts of peoples and their leaders the desire to build peace and to give the younger generations a future of hope, not war," the pope prayed, "a future full of cradles not tombs, a world of brothers and sisters, not walls and barricades."

In his homily at the Mass, Pope Francis focused on the Gospel reading, John 10:1-10, where Jesus describes himself as a shepherd who calls his sheep by name and as the gate for the sheep.

Jesus brings people into the fold, the community, the church, the pope said, and then he sends them out.

"We too were first gathered into God's family to become his people," he said, "then we too were sent out into the world so that, courageously and fearlessly, we might become heralds of the good news, witnesses of the love that has given us new birth."

Jesus is an open door, the pope said, welcoming people into the community and sending them out again in his name.

Pope Francis said he is saddened to see "closed doors also within our ecclesial communities: doors closed to other people, closed to the world, closed to those who are 'irregular,' closed to those who long for God's forgiveness."

"Please," he told Hungarian Catholics, "let us open those doors! Let us try to be -- in our words, deeds and daily activities -- like Jesus, an open door: a door that is never shut in anyone's face, a door that enables everyone to enter and experience the beauty of the Lord's love and forgiveness."

Saying he was speaking particularly to himself and to his fellow bishops and priests, Pope Francis said they must be good shepherds like Jesus, who "does not take advantage of his role; he does not lord it over the flock entrusted to his care; he does not occupy spaces that belong to his lay brothers and sisters; he does not exercise inflexible authority."

The call extends to "those with political and social responsibilities," he said. "Be open and inclusive, then, and in this way, help Hungary to grow in fraternity, which is the path of peace."

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

U.S. Catholics are more polarized than ever in how they view Pope Francis, even though majorities on both ends of the political spectrum have a positive view of the pope, according to a new survey.
In this special round table episode of “Inside the Vatican,” America Editor-in-Chief Father Sam Sawyer and the Executive Director of Outreach, America’s LGBT Catholic resource, Michael O’Loughlin, join host Colleen Dulle for a discussion on the document “Dignitas Infinita” and the pastoral
Inside the VaticanApril 12, 2024
Miles Teller stars in a scene from the movie "Whiplash." (CNS photo/courtesy Sony Pictures Classics)
Played by Miles Teller, Andrew falls prey to an obsession so powerful that it robs us of the clarity or freedom to make good choices.
John DoughertyApril 12, 2024
In one way or another, these collections bear the traces of the divine, of the needful Christ.
Delaney CoyneApril 12, 2024