During their meeting, the Hungarian Head of State also extended an official invitation to visit Hungary to Pope Francis. She later announced that the pontiff accepted the invitation, and confirmed that he intends to visit the country in the coming spring.
Peace in the Focus of the Meeting
President Novák spoke with Hungarian television channel Hír TV about the meeting. She highlighted that with the confirmation of the Pope’s visit next year, preparations have already commenced to welcome him in the country spring 2023. The President noted that the main topic of their discussion was the Russian-Ukrainian war, and they agreed that their common goal is to restore peace in Europe. She explained that ‘Pope Francis speaks and prays for peace. He does everything in his power to be an advocate of peace. We Hungarians also speak for peace, and this visit reaffirmed our commitment to it.’
President Novák also quoted the Pope as having told her that in order to restore and maintain peace, the world needs female leaders who can be messengers of peace. He urged the President to be unwavering in her efforts to help end the war in Ukraine.
The two also discussed Hungarian family policies. Pope Francis remarked that he is impressed by the Hungarian government’s pro-family measures, stressing the importance of the protection of the traditional family. President Novák also granted an interview to Vatican Radio, where she talked in depth about her meeting with the pontiff. She said that the Pope was positively surprised by the outstanding results of Hungarian government policies concerning families, and was particularly pleased to learn that the number of marriages has doubled and the number of abortions has dropped by half since 2010. The Pope told President Novák that sadly, it seems to him that marriage ‘has gone out of fashion’ in Europe and in the whole world.
The President explained that during their meeting they also spoke about the need to promote traditional families. The two also discussed that young people are often targeted with an ideology that advocates that having children is a burden, both in terms of their career and the environment. President Novák said that she considers it a personal mission to inform young women that they should not deny themselves the wonder of having children for fear of missing out on career opportunities. ‘We would like to achieve a situation where there are no financial drawbacks or hurdles when one wants to start a family in Hungary,’ she underscored.
The President continued by saying that in Hungary, family and family values still matter for people, and the government acts on behalf of the majority when protecting traditional family values.
In terms of the war in Ukraine, she also noted in the interview that as a mother of three, she can deeply empathise with those women ‘in Transcarpathia, in Ukraine, and in Russia’ whose husbands or children had to part from them because of the war.
Significance of the Visit
The President’s visit to the Vatican bears significance in international politics. It proves that Hungary is not isolated diplomatically, as often suggested by the liberal mainstream, while also demonstrating that Christian faith and traditions are of primary importance for Hungarian conservative leaders.
With the invitation extended and accepted by the pontiff, Hungary can look forward to yet another event of exceptional importance next year. According to a recent survey, the President is favourably viewed by the majority of Hungarians. With the papal visit, her popularity will most likely continue to rise. The last time Pope Francis was in Hungary was last year, when he was in Budapest for the International Eucharistic Congress. His visit next spring will be the fourth papal visit in Hungary’s history.