“Symbol of peace” – Pope visits Hungary, right-wing extremist pardoned

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Pope Francis landed in Hungary on Friday for a three-day trip. The papal plane arrived at Budapest airport at 9:53 am. Immediately after landing, the pope met President Katalin Novák and then Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. In her greeting, Novák described the pope’s visit as a “sign of a genuine campaign for peace”. Meanwhile, the pardon of a right-wing extremist sentenced to several years in prison for terrorist activities caused a stir.

Prison gates in Vác opened for György Budaházy on Thursday night on the sidelines of the pope’s visit, after President Novák pardoned those convicted of terrorism and other people. According to the president’s office, the Pope’s visit to Hungary is the reason why the head of state has exercised his right of amnesty. Budaházy, who was one of the pardons, got on a horse after leaving prison in the town near Budapest, shouted “freedom” and rode to the nearest pub, as “Klubradio” reported.

Right-wing extremist wants to thank the Pope during Sunday Mass
On Sunday, on the occasion of Pope Francis’ mass at Kossuth Square in Budapest, he wanted to thank the pope for traveling to Hungary and making his pardon possible. Budaházy was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2016 for terrorist acts. According to the indictment, he committed arson attacks against the homes and party offices of politicians in the then centre-left government between 2007 and 2009 and built bombs for further attacks. All actions were attributed to his suspected terrorist groups “Hunnia Movement” and “Arrows of the Hungarians”. Both the public prosecutor’s office and Budaházy’s lawyer appealed against the 2016 first-instance verdict. In 2018, the verdict was overturned by a court in Budapest and a new trial was started, in which Budaházy was sentenced at first instance in March 2022 to 17 years in prison. This year, the second-instance sentence was reduced to six years.

The visit to Hungary is Francis’ first trip since his recent hospitalization. The official pastoral visit, scheduled to run through Sunday, is the pope’s 41st trip abroad and, following a brief half-day visit for the closing service of the World Eucharistic Congress in September 2021, his second sojourn in Budapest. For the first time since the Russian attack in February 2022, the 86-year-old church leader is also visiting a neighboring country of Ukraine. Prior to the pope’s visit, President Novák described Francis as a “man of peace”. She trusts that Francis will bring new hope to Hungary through his message of peace. She appreciated his willingness to play a mediating role in seeking a solution.

Meeting with refugees from Ukraine planned
One of the highlights of the papal program in Budapest is a meeting with the poor and refugees on Saturday at the Elisabeth Church on Rosenplatz, not far from the Keleti train station. Among them will also be refugees from Ukraine. In recent months, Hungary has helped transit several million war refugees and hosted tens of thousands of them.

Source: Krone

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