(From Poznan) “We are sad, because we are glad of the efforts the government has been making recently”. This is how mgr. Andras Veres, bishop of Győr and President of the Hungarian Bishops Conference, commented the decision taken by the European Parliament – with 448 votes for, 197 against and 48 abstentions – to condemn Viktor Orban’s Hungary for breaching the principles of democracy and international law. Speaking at the Bishops’ plenary meeting going on in Poznan, Poland, till next Sunday, mgr. Veres said: “There may be some questionable points but the government was trying to defend Europe and the country itself. We think the country has been condemned because of such defence”. And he explains: “Unfortunately, history is repeating itself. Hungary has already suffered a major attack from Islam in the 16th century, and we have very bad memories because the Church was completely destroyed. Now, people fear a new shift towards Islam”. The bishop points out that the current government received two thirds of the Hungarians’ votes and – he adds – “twice”: “One could say people support this government. Now, we will see how we can rebuild our relations with the EU and solve this situation”. According to mgr. Veres, the European Parliament’s decision to condemn Hungary “does not help increase solidarity; we should actually say the Catholic Church and the government have tried to make real gestures of solidarity in the last few years”.
“We are not against migrants”, the Hungarian Bishops’ president pushes on. “But the system that the European Union wants is not the same the Hungarian government wants, which means that help must be given to people where they are”. And he points out that “in 2016, when there was a Synod for the Middle East, all the Eastern Patriarchs said: ‘Help us prevent our people going away, we want them to stay in their homes and, even if they go to a peaceful country, we want them to come back’. We tried to do just that”. So, as to Pope Francis’s relentlessly urging Europe not to close its borders, the Hungarian Bishops’ president said: “All the people who have come to Hungary have been helped. Even if we should say that no one wants to stay in Hungary, they want to go to Germany, France and elsewhere. A huge crowd of migrants arrived in 2015 and, even then, both the government and the Catholic Church tried to do all they could to help them and take them in”. What would you like to say to the European Union? “Those who wish to take refugees in their countries can do that, but those who have problems with this solution should be respected. All countries are free and should decide for themselves”.