Pope Francis arrived in Hungary early on Sunday, starting an unusually short stay that will underline differences with nationalist and anti-immigrant Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
After landing, pilots flew the red-white-green national flag of Hungary and the flag of the Vatican from the windows of the cockpit of the Alitalia jet as it taxied down the sunbathed runway. At the airport, Pope Francis was greeted by Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen, Cardinal Peter Erdo and Hungarian bishops, Hungarian public television reported.
The smiling Pope briefly waved to children lining up to greet him before getting into a car taking him to central Budapest.
The Vatican’s schedule says Francis is due to meet Orban and President Janos Ader as well as bishops and representatives of some Jewish communities before saying Mass to conclude a Church congress that began last Sunday.
The extreme brevity of his stay in Budapest has prompted diplomats and Catholic media to suggest that the pope, making his first trip since surgery in July, is giving priority to Slovakia, in effect snubbing Hungary.