“The Vatican knows that it can count on Hungary with relation to assisting Christian communities that are in trouble”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI on Thursday following talks with Bishop Richard Paul Gallagher, the Holy See's Secretary for Relations with States.

Mr Szijjártó told the press that the main topic of the meeting was action against increasing prevalent global anti-Christianity. He noted that it has become an established practice for the chief diplomats of the two countries to meet at least twice a year. “Hungary has a thousand-year Christian statehood, and accordingly we cannot allow the attacks on Christianity that gain strength from time to time to be victorious over Christian values”, Mr. Szijjártó declared.

He pointed out that the parties had agreed that Christianity is currently facing attacks “from all directions and aspects”, meaning physical abuse, as well as political and ideological attacks. “Attacks have also arrived from where we expected them least, meaning from Western Europe, where Christian values are being called into question and they want to do away with Europe’s Christian identity, roots and traditions”, he added.

The Minister pointed out that Christianity has become the world’s most persecuted religion, with over 250 million Christians facing violence and persecution every day, and in recent years ten thousand churches and Christian buildings have been the target of attacks, bombings and destruction. “Hungary’s government remains committed to assisting Christian communities that are in trouble”, Mr. Szijjártó emphasised.

At the Vatican, the Hungarian Foreign Minister reported on the emergency aid provided to the Maronite Church in Lebanon, a month after the Beirut bombing, and mentioned the assistance being provided to persecuted Christian communities in the Middle East, as well as the two hundred scholarship places provided at Hungarian universities last year to Middle Eastern Christian students who are being discriminated against in their own homelands.

Mr. Szijjártó said cooperation with the Catholic Church, “which has played an outstanding role in the history and life of the Hungarian nation”, is excellent and continuous. He mentioned the renovation of Catholic churches that is occurring in Hungary with the help of state funding, “while in Western countries hundreds of catholic churches and churches of other religions have been closed or converted in recent years”. “In Hungary and areas of the Carpathian Basin with Hungarian populations, we have renovated or constructed three thousand Christian churches over the past ten years, and the number of church schools has doubled”, he said. He added that if the virus situation permits it, next September Hungary is ready to host the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, which was due to be held in Budapest this year, but has had to be postponed in view of the coronavirus pandemic. “Hungary will be an excellent host of the event”, he highlighted.

Mr Szijjártó also reacted to Thursday’s statement by Italian Minister of Interior Luciana Lamorgese. The representative of the Italian government called for the urgent mandatory distribution of migrants within the European Union, and suggested that member states that reject this should not receive any funding aimed at economic recovery following the epidemic. “We have become used to the liberal, left-wing parties continuously blackmailing the Central European states, and particularly its patriotic governments. They are blackmailing us with the withdrawing of European funding unless we gave up our strict migration policies, but this is something we will never give up”, he declared. “The Hungarian Government will continue to resist, and will protect Hungary and European from illegal migration”, he explained. “European funding is something that is due to us; it is not a charitable donation. Hungary is fulfilling all of its EU obligations, and in accordance with the European treaties this funding is also our money; we will not bow to any kind of blackmail”, the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade declared.

(MTI/Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister)