Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén on Sunday handed over the keys of a building in central Budapest to Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the current Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch.
The decision to grant the complex of buildings on Múzeum Avenue to the Orthodox Church was approved not only by the ruling alliance but by opposition lawmakers too.
“Hungary will never forget what it owes to Orthodox Christianity,” Semjén said. The building represents Hungary’s “modest return” of gratitude owed to Bartholomew I and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. It also gives an opportunity for the church to be able to carry out its services in Hungary, he added.
Hungary received a great gift at the turn of the millennium when King Stephen was venerated by the Orthodox Church, said Semjén, adding that the founder of the Hungarian state thereby became a link between the western and the eastern churches.
Bartholomew I expressed thanks for the “historic building complex of immense value” and said the church “had a burning need for it” in order “to carry out its diverse pastoral and cultural tasks”.
Bartholomew I, in Budapest at the invitation of the Hungarian prime minister, is scheduled to meet President János Áder in the afternoon and will also participate in the Aug. 20 procession of Saint Stephen’s Holy Right Hand.
In the census of 2011, a total of 1,701 Hungarians said they followed the Greek Orthodox faith.
Featured image: MTI