President Katalin Novák has called Pope Francis a “man of peace” and said she hoped that his visit to Budapest at the weekend would restore a sense of hope after the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, in an interview published in Magyar Kurír on Tuesday.
“The Bible teaches that the future belongs to men of peace. Francis is such a man, and so are we Hungarians,” she said. It appears that Pope Francis aims to meet as many Hungarians and real communities as possible during his visit between April 28-30, she said. She noted that during his visit to Budapest during the Eucharistic Congress last September, Francis highlighted the importance of cooperation between the churches. Regarding the war in Ukraine, Novák said the priority there was to “assure victims of our support, condemn aggression and find a way to peace.” Her visit to Kyiv last November was such a show of support, she said.
At the same time, she noted that the rights of Hungarians had been curbed in Ukraine recently, which she called “unacceptable”. The issue should not be “swept under the carpet”, she warned. Hungarians living in Ukraine should be able to make a living in their own community and homeland, using their mother tongue, she said. On finding a way to peace in Ukraine, Novák praised Francis’s Easter message in which he said that he stood by Ukrainians under attack “but will not forget or give up on Russian people either.” To find solutions, dialogue must be fostered between warring parties and the forces supporting them, she said. “That needs, first of all, a strong decision to end the war,” she said.
“It seems clear to me that the war must not end with Russia achieving its aims, even though they have not declared a concrete goal. It cannot end with Russia allowed to stay in Ukrainian territories,” she said. At the same time, a growing number of countries getting involved in the conflict could lead to escalation, she said. “War will not necessarily stop at the borders,” and its spilling over into Hungary should be avoided at all costs, she said. Commenting on the debate regarding teachers’ wages, Novák said the profession’s prestige should be boosted to draw young people and to win back those who have left it.
Papal visit: all preparations complete
“Everything is set” for Pope Francis’s upcoming visit to Hungary, the state secretary for international communications said after a meeting on Tuesday of the operative body in charge of preparations. Zoltán Kovács said making preparations was a state responsibility, though the pope’s visit would “basically be an apostolic event”. Organisers have been working “in line with decisions by the Hungarian Catholic Church and the papal delegation” in terms of selecting venues and planning programmes, he added.
Bishop András Veres, the head of the Conference of Hungarian Catholic Bishops, said the visit would be an “honour and joyful meeting” not only for Catholics but for the whole nation. He noted that Francis could not visit outside Budapest due his fragile health, but organisers were “mobilising the country” and inviting believers and priests to come to Budapest during the three-day visit starting on Friday.
To promote peace, Mrs. Novák should perhaps also reach out to Patriarch Kirill – although with him praising the invasion of Ukraine, blaming the conflict on “gay parades” and making baseless claims that Ukraine was “exterminating” Russians in Donbass that’s going to be an uphill battle.
He has also praised Mr. Putin for his “high and responsible service to the people of Russia,” declared that the Russian Orthodox Church has “always striven to make a significant contribution to the patriotic education of compatriots,” and lauded military service as “an active manifestation of evangelical love for neighbors”.
Potential upside for our Politicians, he also preaches love for the fatherland and patriotism as the “greatest virtues” so here may be common ground. And he owes them, in a way. Our Politicians were instrumental in keeping the Patriarch off the sanctions list: https://www.rferl.org/a/patriarch-kirill-sanctions-eu-ukraine-hungary/31880523.html
Finally and for a somewhat lighter tone – this article suggests Patriarch Kirill may have a famous neighbor!