At an international conference on the history of the Holy See’s diplomatic relations held on Tuesday in Budapest, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén said that Christianity in Hungary is also a factor that can preserve the nation.

DownloadFotó: Kovács Tamás/MTIIn his presentation, the Deputy Prime Minister for Church Diplomacy gave an overview of the last twenty-five years of diplomatic relations and the practice of concluding bilateral agreements, and said that in recent years the joint committee of the Holy See and Hungary have achieved results which allow the Catholic Church to not only engage in faith activities, but also to assume greater responsibilities in the field of education and health care, in taking care of those in need and in promoting the public good.

Mr. Semjén pointed out that the Catholic Church is independent from state power, and it has its own autonomy, which has always been proudly protected throughout history; there is nowadays a favourable correlation between its self-definition and the generally accepted views of democratic states.

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Referring to the Constitution of Hungary, the Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that the State and religious communities operate separately, and that religious communities are independent. He added that nowadays the question is not really one of their independence, or separation of Church and State, but the opportunities and means of cooperation between them. The Church is separated only from the State, but not from society; on the contrary, its mission is about the exact same society that the State was created to serve, Mr. Semjén explained.

At the event Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog said that unbelievable powers reside in continuity, and he added that the period of the past one thousand years – throughout which Hungary and the Holy See have maintained diplomatic relations – has been characterized by fidelity and transparency.

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In his welcoming speech, Nuncio Alberto Bottari de Castello said that diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Hungary have a history of about one thousand years, throughout which there have been both good times and bad times. “But today we are here to commemorate, to celebrate to and reinforce our will to cooperate”, he said.

Also attending the conference were representatives of the diplomatic corps, former President of Hungary Pál Schmidt and former Prime Minister Péter Boross.

(Prime Minister's Office, MTI)