Katalin Novak - Photo: Facebook

Novak: Hungary set to start preparing 2023 papal visit

Hungary is set to begin preparations for a visit by the pope scheduled for next year, with the pontiff confirming his intention to travel to Hungary, President Katalin Novak said after a private audience with Pope Francis in Rome on Thursday.

Novak told public media that her 40-minute meeting with the pope covered the topic of a future papal visit to Hungary, the war in Ukraine and family support.

The president said she had handed over an official invitation to the pope and asked him to visit Hungary next year. The pontiff confirmed his intention to travel to Hungary, which means Hungary can begin making preparations for the visit, Novak said. She said Pope Francis’s visit could be scheduled for next spring.

As regards the war, Novak said she and Francis were in agreement that achieving peace as quickly as possible was a “shared interest”. “Pope Francis is praying for peace, speaks out for peace and does everything he can to be an ambassador for peace,” Novak said. Hungarians also favour peace and want the war to end as quickly as possible, she said, adding that her visit to Rome “strengthened our commitment to peace”.

Novak said she and the pope had also talked at length about support for families and specifically Hungary’s family policy. “We spoke about all the things we’ve done in Hungary to make parenthood attractive,” she said, adding that the pope had expressed appreciation for these measures. She said they had also discussed the importance of supporting the preservation of traditional family values and the traditional family model “especially now when so many are attacking these traditional values”.

Novak said she was proud that the number of marriages in Hungary had doubled while the number of abortions have halved. “Pope Francis, too, is a committed supporter of traditional family values,” the president said. Novak said the pope had also stressed the need for female world leaders and had encouraged her to stand up for peace whenever she had the opportunity. The meeting also touched on Hungary’s support of persecuted Christians, “a mission which Hungary intends to continue”, Novak said, adding that the Vatican supported this intention.

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