But there's one actual leader of European Christendom who probably vehemently disagrees with Orban. On Monday, as the Hungarian leader basked in his victory, Pope Francis issued an apostolic exhortation on the subject of holiness. His message centered on the importance of caring for migrants, with the pope arguing that their plight should be as important to Catholics as their opposition to abortion.
“Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate,” the pope wrote. “Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned.”
As the New York Times reported, the Vatican introduced the exhortation with a promotional video featuring a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan named Mohammad Jawad Haidari, who expressed his awe for the pontiff's compassion. “It was a surprise, and a revolutionary text with respect of the vision I had before of the Christian world,” Haidari said in response to the pope's new message.
He has also had awkward dealings with clergy members in Hungary and Poland, both historically Catholic nations with right-wing nationalist governments that practice virtually the opposite of what the pope seems to preach.
Orban said that Soros aimed to strike a “final blow to Christian culture” through his support for greater pluralism and compassion toward migrants. Anti-Soros messaging suffused the election campaign, which international monitors declared was “significantly compromised” by the ruling party's overweening control over state television and even some commercial broadcasters.
Douglas Wake, the head of mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told reporters in Budapest that Orban’s virulent anti-migration message subsumed the election cycle and marginalized the opposition. The “hostile and intimidating campaign rhetoric,” Wake said, “limited the space for substantive debate and diminished voters’ ability to make an informed choice.”
With another term now in hand, Orban has become one of the continent's most potent illiberal demagogues, bending the state to his favor and eroding the country's fledgling democratic norms. Now his critics fear bigger moves to silence opposition to his rule.
“Approximately 2,000 people are working in Hungary to overthrow the government in the election campaign and replace it with a pro-immigration cabinet favorable to George Soros, as well,” Orban told state radio before the vote. “We know exactly, by name, who these people are and how they operate in order to turn Hungary into an immigrant country.”
As my colleague James McAuley reported, Orban and his allies intend to enact new legislation to crack down on civil-society groups it deems hostile to the government's interests. “We can see an alarmingly fast crackdown on civil society, or independent voices, in Hungary,” Marta Pardavi, the co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights group that works with migrants, said to McAuley.
But his vision of Christendom is not shared in Rome, where the pope seems to have an inconvenient fondness for at least some “liberal babble.” In his exhortation, Francis pointed to how “welcoming the stranger” was fundamental to the Catholic faith, not a “a momentary fad” that happened to be “invented by some Pope.”
“That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable,” the pope wrote, “but not a Christian.”