Hungary rejects sanctions against religious leaders, the state secretary for aiding persecuted Christians told public television on Sunday, commenting on the European Union’s plan to sanction Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Tristan Azbej, who also heads the Hungary Helps aid programme, said that whereas Hungary condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine and supported various sanctions, Hungary supported brokering peace and “sees counterproductive, nonsensical sanctions as harmful”. The Russian Orthodox Church has some 160 million members and 40,000 priests worldwide, Azbej noted, adding that the EU’s “crazy” proposal would ban the patriarch from entering the bloc, isolating religious people from their spiritual leader.
The Syrian orthodox patriarch, the Armenian Apostolic Church, and the Hungarian eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, among others, have turned to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, “the last voice of Christianity and common sense in the EU”, regarding the European Commission’s proposal, which he said would create a dangerous precedent of “keeping other churches in check, and subjecting them to politically motivated sanctions”.
Hungary sees religious freedom as “sacred and inviolable”, and will not support sanctioning religious leaders, he said. Meanwhile, Hungary has provided aid worth 2 billion forints (EUR 5.2m) to Ukraine, he said.