“Hungary is showing the way to countries who are much more affluent with relation to helping persecuted Christians”, Minister of State for Churches, Minorities and Civil Affairs Miklós Soltész from the Prime Minister’s Office said on Monday in Budapest at a conference entitled The Security Situation of Religious Communities in a Changing World.

According to Mr. Soltész, it remains to be seen whether those who have become rich through trading arms and ignited wars will realise that they must provide assistance in areas that are ravaged by war.

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“While those who support migration wanted to remedy the labour shortages of affluent European countries and by doing so have further weakened the countries of Central Europe, the Hungarian Government is providing support to help, primarily Christian, Middle Eastern communities to remain in place and gain strength” the Minister of State highlighted.

“This goal is served by the Government’s various church and school (re)construction programmes, and also by its scholarship programme, within the framework of which hundreds of young people from the Middle East are studying at Hungarian universities, to enable them to return home and become leaders of their communities”, he added.

Mr. Soltész also spoke about the fact that three years ago some half a million people marched through Hungary, and “no matter what lies people tell”, the Government helped those in need to ensured that nobody was left without food and medical assistance. However, “we did not provide assistance to enable them to occupy us”, he said.

“Hungary’s political leadership and the Hungarian Prime Minister, who were heavily criticised two and a half years ago for constructing the border security fence, are now being hailed by many as the saviours of Europe”, he stated. Italy and Austria are “following in our footsteps”, and on Sunday German Chancellor Angela Merkel also stated that “the Hungarian fence is also protecting Germany”. “It is a pity that she did not recognise this fact two and a half years go”, the Minister of State noted.

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The politician also said that the Deputy State Secretariat for the Aid of persecuted Christians will be continuing its work under the supervision of the Prime Minister’s Office and “under his wing”.

Györgyi Nyikos, Vice-Rector for International Affairs of the National University of Public Service (NUPS), which organised the conference, said that a research group studying the security situation of religious communities is operating at the university. The internationally recognised researchers and PhD students are working together to draw attention to the plight of Christian communities in the Middle East, and during the course of their research they work in cooperation with both the Government and Middle Eastern Christian communities, she added.

Zsolt Marton, Rector of the Central Theological Seminary, which provided the venue for the conference, recalled that the site of the University’s church used to be occupied by a mosque during the Turkish occupation, and when the Turks were driven out the Paulist monks who began building the church initially used the mosque for prayers. The Paulists built a monastery next to the mosque, and after it was completed, Joseph II disbanded the order in 1786.

Joseph II would have liked to found a Josephinist seminary in the empty monastery, but didn’t find enough teachers, and the Theological Seminary eventually only began operation in 1805, he said.

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Later, many storms of history swept through the institution, for instance during the revolution of 1848, Parliament held its session in the university church, and the Seminary’s building later served as the Red Army’s cashier’s office. These storms all blew away eventually and “here we are nevertheless in the service of the Hungarian nation”, the head of the institution said.

Amongst others, Apostolic Administrator of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzabella will be holding a lecture at the all-day conference, the chief patron of which is Archbishop of Esztergom- Budapest and Primate of Hungary Péter Erdő.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)