“A county’s material economy is extremely important, but if it becomes empty spiritually, if it abandons Christianity, then eventually that nation, that country, is doomed to destruction”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Minister of State for Security Policy Péter Sztáray said on Saturday in Esztergom in a lecture on the 25th Saint Thomas Becket Memorial Day.

“In addition to theological tradition, to the Hungarians Christianity also means a social structure, which for over a thousand years has determined the status of human dignity, the family, the nation, the state and the country’s Churches”, he added.

“We have a people’s party government that governs the country in a Christian democratic spirit (…) we have constructed a 21st century Christian democrat democracy that guarantees people’s dignity, freedom and security, protects the equality of men and women and the traditional family model, curbs anti-Semitism, protects our Christian culture, and provides a chance for the continued existence and prosperity of our nation”, the Minister of State declared.

“Today, the Hungarians imagine Hungary and Europe as acknowledging the importance of Christianity and being based on the family; while they interpret Europe as a Europe of nations that is not exclusionary, but insists on its values”, Mr. Sztáray underlined. According to the Minister of State’s opinion, differences cannot provide cause for the stigmatisation of any country or for it being excluded from the opportunity to take part in joint decision-making.

“We can only provide a successful response to the nightmare of a united states of Europe without nations if we can rely on strong nations that are capable of providing solutions to the problems of the future in cooperation”, Mr. Sztáray said.

In his lecture at the event, Minister of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler presented the continuous change in the Church organisation and power structure of the two societies beginning from the founding of the state, highlighting the similarities between the lives of Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket and Archbishop of Esztergom Lukács Bánfi, both of whom turned against their king in defence of their faith and in the interests of the independence of the Church.

“The conscientiousness shown by Thomas Becket, which he maintained until his martyrdom, will forever remain an example”, Mr. Kásler said in a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI. The United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Budapest, Iain Lindsay, spoke similarly in his speech, which was partly given in Hungarian, when he said: “The life of Thomas Becket was not without merit, but his martyrdom changed him from a man of the age to a man of the ages”.

In his closing speech, Mayor of Esztergom Etelka Romanek (Fidesz-KDNP) said we live in a difficult era that does not care about God, neglects national awareness, and is abandoning the values that are synonymous with being part of the Hungarian people, Christianity and a Christian Europe. “Only the profession and acceptance of a moral values that involve spirituality enables the preservation and advancement of life. We must forge communities in which inclusion affords protection. Common faith and love provide protection against the destruction of the secularised world”, she stated.

Prior to the event, which was organised by the Sándor Rudnay Cultural and City Conservation Association and the Sándor Rudnay Foundation, an ecumenical church service was held in Esztergom’s Saint Thomas Chapel.

Esztergom and Canterbury have been related through culture and religious history since the 12th century. Both settlements are archbishoprics. The excellent relations between the two cities were founded on the personal friendship between Thomas Becket and Archbishop of Esztergom Lukács Bánfi, which was forged during their studies in Paris. Archbishop Thomas Becket, who became a martyr in 1170, stood up for the autonomy of the church just like the former head of the Hungarian church. Following Becket’s death, Archbishop Job founded a provostship in Esztergom to commemorate the martyr.

Cardinal László Lékai, who was Chairman of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference from 1976 until his death in 1986, donated some of the relics of Thomas Becket, which had found their way to Esztergom in 1538, to the Archbishopric of Canterbury in view of the fact that all of the saint’s remains and belongings in England were destroyed on the orders of king Henry VIII.