We need a genuine European brotherhood, it is important that Europe must not lose its soul, Justice Minister László Trócsányi said at a conference on Christian Europe and Hungary held in the Parliament Building on Thursday.

Within days of the burning down of Notre-Dame Cathedral, donations worth EUR 700 million were gathered together; Europe feels that without its Christian heritage it cannot be what it is. “Is a strong and intensive identity a threat? It is not if it does not identify itself against others,” Mr Trócsányi said.

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Are the four fundamental freedoms constituting the basis of European integration – the free movement of individuals, workers, services and capital – enough to keep the European community together, or do the new challenges also require us to rediscover our old values, he asked.

There are different views on the role of Christianity in Europe. There are states which place the emphasis of complete laicity, such as France. At the same time, there are countries where in some areas a concept of state religion is upheld, including in Britain and Greece. The third solution – which Hungary itself embraces – is partnership between state and church. The state guarantees freedom of religion, but beyond this it also cooperates with churches in the provision of certain public services, the Minister said.

The soul of 21st century Europe also means that we must help persecuted Christians throughout the world. The Hungary Helps Programme serves this purpose, he added.

Europe is torn by cultural differences, and this conveys the threat of political division. Member States must respect one another. Member States are equal partners, and deserve equal respect. We need trust, this could help eliminate the division between old and new Member States, old and new democracies. What is at stake in the EP elections is whether we will succeed in moving closer to this objective, the head of the Fidesz-KDNP EP list said.

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Péter Harrach, head of KDNP’s parliamentary group, President of the Hungarian Christian Democratic Alliance said in his address entitled ‘Is it still possible to erect a statue in Europe in tribute to János Hunyadi?’ that there are fierce debates about the European role and significance of Christianity. Many have sought to cut Europe off from its Christian roots ever since the Jacobins, and not only the communists. In Europe thousands were killed for their faith. This is no longer the case, but there are anti-Christian sentiments. Attempts are being made to frustrate Christian communities, the supporters of open society treat communities which preserve their traditional identities as enemies, and weaken Europe’s reflexes of self-defence.

It is wrong and biased to disregard Europe’s roots of a thousand years, and to only emphasise that which has happened since the Enlightenment. Jacobinism, communism, the 1968 student riots or the ideological chaos of open society and the weakening of the healthy reflexes of self-defence could lead to dangerous changes in Europe. Western European Christian democracy is now too close to left-liberal forces, he added.

The strengthening of human dignity and solidarity is a pre-condition of the development of a healthy society. We need families, church communities and nations, Mr Harrach stressed.

The conference entitled ‘Future of Christian Europe – What Could Hungary Offer to Europe?’ was organised by the national forum of Christian Civil Society Organisations.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)