Katalin Novak - Photo: Facebook

Novak: Pope Francis bringing ‘message of peace’

Pope Francis will be bringing encouragement, hope and a "message of peace" when he visits Hungary this weekend, President Katalin Novak said in an interview to German Catholic weekly Die Tagespost published on Thursday.

It has been almost 30 years since the last pastoral visit by a pontiff to Hungary, Novak said, adding she believed that Hungary had “made a great impression” on Francis when he visited the country to celebrate the closing mass of the International Eucharistic Congress in 2021.

The president said the pope’s visit was an honour not just for Catholics but all Hungarians.

“We have been living in the immediate shadow of war for over a year,” Novak said, adding that all nations hoped for a peaceful, stable and secure world. “This is the message we need.”

She said the pope could play a key role in bringing about peace talks in Ukraine. “He can speak directly to both parties involved in the conflict as well as their respective partners,” Novak said. “He is the one who can build bridges and break through the walls.”

Hungarians condemn Russian aggression and stand by a sovereign Ukraine, but want peace, Novak said. She welcomed that more and more politicians were recognising the urgent need for peace talks.

“We will not send our husbands and sons to the Ukrainian battlefield,” the president said. “Nobody can want that. We don’t want more innocent people to lose their lives in this war.”

Novak said that Pope Francis had indicated his willingness to visit both Moscow and Kyiv, adding that she considered it wise of the pontiff to want to talk to both sides. She said she hoped the visits would happen “as soon as possible”.

The president also encouraged people not to underestimate the power of prayer. “We are in God’s hands,” she said. “We Hungarians will pray here together with the Holy Father for peace.”

Meanwhile, Novak underscored cooperation between Hungary and the Holy See in standing up for traditional Christian values, the family, the protection of life and the protection of persecuted Christians.

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