Pope warns of anti-Semitism…as he visits Hungary

Pope Francis has warned the threat of anti-Semitism is “still lurking” in Europe, during a brief trip to Hungary.

He was speaking after meeting Hungary’s populist and anti-immigrant Prime Minister (PM) Viktor Orban, with whom he has stark differences on the issue of refugees.

Mr Orban has also been accused of an anti-Semitic stance, but he has said this is “simply ridiculous”.

In a Facebook post, the PM said he had “asked Pope Francis not to let Christian Hungary perish”.

Pope Francis’ meeting with Mr Orban lasted about 40 minutes in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.

In his address to Christian and Jewish leaders afterwards, Francis warned of “the threat of anti-Semitism still lurking in Europe and elsewhere”.

He said: “This is a fuse that must not be allowed to burn. And the best way to defuse it is to work together, positively, and to promote fraternity.”

Hungary has a large Jewish community – some 100,000 strong.

Mr Orban was criticised for his 2017 election campaign that included posters of Jewish financier George Soros, with the words “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh!” He rejected calls from the Jewish community to take them down.

On a visit to London, the PM denied any anti-Semitism, saying that Mr Soros was simply a rival who favoured migrant movement.

Mr Orban and the Pope certainly have divergent views on refugees and migration.

Some of the PM’s supporters in Hungary, along with pro-Orban media, have in the past mocked the Pope as “anti-Christian” for his comments on helping refugees.

At a Mass later on Sunday, Pope Francis alluded to the issue, saying: “The cross, planted in the ground, not only invites us to be well-rooted, it also raises and extends its arms towards everyone.”

“The cross urges us to keep our roots firm, but without defensiveness… My wish is that you be like that: grounded and open, rooted and considerate,” the pope said.

Pope Francis was celebrating Mass to mark the end of the Eucharistic Congress, which has attracted tens of thousands of Christians from around the world over the past week.-BBC

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