ROME — Pope Francis appeared to take a shot at Hungary on Wednesday, insisting “no country can exempt itself” from the obligation to take in migrants.
On Tuesday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán rejected a ruling by the European Union’s (EU) Court of Justice that his government had “failed to fulfil its obligations” to relax its immigration laws.
“We will maintain the existing regime, even if the European court ordered us to change it,” Orbán said Tuesday in his end-of-year news conference.
“The reality is that we have to stop the migrants at the borders,” he declared. “This can be solved by one thing: changing the European asylum rules, but this process has not even started yet.”
In an appeal following his weekly General Audience Wednesday, Pope Francis said that all European nations should share in the “consequences” of the migratory phenomenon occurring in the Mediterranean area.
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“During my visit to Cyprus and Greece, I was able to once again personally touch wounded humanity in refugees and migrants,” the pontiff stated. “I also noted how only some European countries are bearing most of the consequences of this migratory phenomenon in the Mediterranean area, while in reality, a shared responsibility is necessary from which no country can exempt itself.”
The pope singled out Italy for praise, while urging other European countries to follow suit.
“In particular, thanks to the generous openness of the Italian authorities, I was able to bring to Rome a group of people I met during my journey: some of them are here among us today. Welcome!” he said. “As a Church, we will take care of them during the coming months.”
“This is a small sign that I hope will serve as a stimulus for other European countries, so that they might allow the local ecclesial communities to take care of other brothers and sisters who are in urgent need of being relocated,” he added.
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“In fact, there are many local Churches, religious congregations and Catholic organizations who are ready to welcome and accompany them toward a fruitful integration. All that is needed is an open door!” he declared.
During his tenure as Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán has insisted on Hungary’s national sovereignty, underscoring the right of the Hungarian people to decide their own immigration policy rather than having it dictated to them by the European Union.