The Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, participated actively as Pope Francis visited Hungary. The Holy Father, who visited Hungary for the second time, encouraged the faithful in their effort to witness to the Gospel in an increasingly hostile cultural milieu. He expressed satisfaction with Hungarians’ efforts in welcoming immigrants and supporting those at the margins of society. He charged them along the path of openness to the socio-politically stranded and politico-economic challenged brethren seeking refuge. The Holy Father used the opportunity to dialogue with various groups and critical stakeholders in Hungarian society, including the political leaders and diplomats, the Church leaders, the youth, refugees and immigrants, orphans and the Christian faithful of Hungary. On arrival, after his welcome by the refugees, Pope Francis visited the Greek-rite Catholic Church, which has been providing aid to refugees and met with the Russian Orthodox Church’s representative in Hungary, Metropolitan Hilarion. In short, he celebrated Masses, held meetings and had visits that offered consolations, hope and encouragement to move forward with faith.
The Archbishop represented the Church in Onitsha during the two-day papal visit. The Church in Onitsha and Budapest has developed a mutually beneficial fraternal relationship. Therefore, His Grace took part in the apostolic visit as an expression of ecclesial friendship and fraternal love and for its faith-refreshing value.
Beyond the reality that the Archbishop is training some of his priests in specialized disciplines in Hungary, it is quite remarkable that a team of medical professionals from Hungary engage in voluntary medical missions in Nigeria, especially Onitsha. Their medical experts have performed ground-breaking medical procedures that have saved the lives of some of our people. The sacrificial love that the good people of Hungary have been showing to our local Church has been inspiring and God-glorifying. Mutual support, friendship and fraternity make solidarity incumbent and compelling. The Archbishop expressed his satisfaction, gratitude and congratulations to the host bishop, His Eminence Peter Cardinal Erdo, Archbishop of Budapest and Primate of Hungary and the team of organizers for the tremendous success of the papal visit.
Archbishop Okeke took the opportunity to pray for peace in the world, especially for the war-ravaged Ukraine and for justice, fairness and peace in Nigeria. He entrusted the cries, pains and disappointments of Nigerians to God while thanking Him for the hopes and little successes in our nation. Finally, he prayed for a rich human and spiritual harvest from the visit.