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Interview with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán following his meeting with Pope Francis

Csaba Joó (M1): Prime Minister, how significant is it that your first trip after your election victory led you here, and what did you discuss with the Holy Father?

The logic of Hungarian history dictates that Hungary should regard the centre of Christianity, the Vatican and the Holy Father, as exceptional. I’m continuing a great Hungarian tradition by accepting the Holy Father’s invitation before any other after our election victory. Moreover, the war lends this a special significance, as the Holy Father is well known for exercising his influence in the name of peace, and Hungary also takes the same position: let there be peace as soon as possible – nothing is more important.

What was said about the war? Was there perhaps mention of the fact that Hungary has already taken in more than 600,000 refugees?

There was. Around the world it’s well known that, related to its population – we’re a country of 10 million people – Hungary has taken in the highest number of refugees from Ukraine. We’ve now accepted around 640,000 – including students who aren’t themselves Ukrainian, but who were studying in Ukraine and who will probably be able to continue their studies in Hungary. We’re running our biggest ever humanitarian operation. This has garnered recognition and respect all over the world, with the Holy Father mentioning it and encouraging us to continue this worthy tradition of ours.

 Last year, when celebrating the Mass which brought the International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest to a close, he also mentioned the outstanding nature of family support, the family support system in Hungary. Was this mentioned?

Well, a person or a country doesn’t maintain political relations with the Vatican, but spiritual relations. I can confidently say, however, that the most important area of agreement which has developed between the two states – between the Vatican and the Hungarian state – is precisely in relation to families. We all think – here in Rome, in the Vatican, and in Budapest – that in our age the most important communal unit is the family. The family is the ultimate bastion and final refuge for people in modern times. Therefore we must mobilise all our efforts to protect and strengthen this communal unit, the family, as the most important human community of modern times. In this we can count on the support of the Holy Father.

Prime Minister, thank you very much.

Prime Minister, is there any news on whether the Holy Father will be visiting Hungary again? There was mention of it last year.

Talks on this have been going on for some time. The preparatory work has reached a point at which today I’ve been able to formally invite the Holy Father to visit Hungary next year. I’ve received an encouragingly positive response to this.

Thank you very much. So there’s no date for that yet.