Budapest, January 5 (MTI) – An ecumenical service in memory of Saint Thomas of Canterbury was held at the hillside chapel that bears his name in the Hungarian city of Esztergom on Sunday.
The service was followed by a conference on Christian values and European identity. UNESCO ambassador Katalin Bogyay, Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog, British ambassador to Hungary Jonathan Knott, Rudnay Sandor Foundation head Laszlo Kiss-Rigo and Szeged University rector Gabor Szabo spoke at the meeting.
Balog said Europe was going through an identity crisis. Tolerance, devoid of any moral base, has been made the focus, he said. He warned that individual values would not add up to a whole and could not become the source of a central driving force.
Balog said that all spiritual and cultural values had been extracted from European constitution, and the peoples of Europe had still failed to agree on what was left of the document.
The message of the time in which Thomas Becket lived is that there is no political or worldly power that is not in need of controls and standards, he said. “There is nothing more dangerous than that power that is unable to control itself. That power that may do anything becomes a dictatorship,” he added.
Bogyay stressed in her presentation the necessity of dialogue between cultures and between faiths.
Knott said the future of Europe was seen in the UK in the light of prosperity, respect, justice and democracy. But he noted “mild concern” regarding recent trends that he said would not bring Europe any closer to its citizens.
Szabo said scientific methods were necessary for faith if it was not to remain blind faith. But he also said the sciences require faith because, alone, they are without a system of values. “The sciences require ethics, but this cannot be found in the sciences, it must be brought from outside,” he explained.
The ties between Esztergom and Canterbury go back to the 12th century, when Thomas Becket and Lukacs Banfi, who would become the Archbishop of Esztergom, formed a friendship during their studies in Paris.
Photo: MTI – Zoltán Máthé