Orbán: ‘I asked Pope Francis to support our efforts towards peace’

After meeting Pope Francis for a private audience on Thursday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the logic of Hungary's history dictated that Hungary regarded the centre of Christianity, the Vatican and the pope, in a distinct way.

Speaking in Rome, his first foreign port of call after the recent general election, Orbán told public media that accepting the invitation of the Holy See followed “a great Hungarian tradition”.

Noting the pontiff’s well-known efforts to promote peace, the prime minister said his visit was of special significance in light of the war in Ukraine. Hungary, too, strives for the swiftest possible peaceful resolution to the conflict, he added.

Answering a question, Orbán said he had formally invited Pope Francis to pay an official visit to Hungary next year, adding that he had received “an encouraging response”.

Orbán said Hungary had so far received the largest number of people fleeing the war — including non-Ukrainian students — in proportion of its population, numbering 640,000 refugees.

“We are conducting the largest humanitarian operation of all time, for which we are receiving recognition and respect the world over,” Orbán said. He said the pope made reference to this and “encouraged us not to give up this good habit of ours”.

The prime minister said that when it came to the Vatican, a country did not have a political relationship but a spiritual one. The Vatican and the Hungarian state both agree on the importance of the family, he added.

“All of us here in Rome, in the Vatican and in Budapest think that the family is the most important community of our times. The last refuge and the safest habour for man in this modern world is the family, he said. This is why we must mobilise all our efforts to protect and strengthen this most important human community in our modern age, and we can count on the Holy Father in this endeavour,” Orbán said.

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