In an interview with Kossuth Radio, Hungarian official Miklos Soltesz said that his government has contributed to rebuilding some 5,500 churches and community buildings in the Carpathian basin of the eastern European nation. Soltesz, who serves as Hungary’s Minister of State for Church, Nationality and Civil Society Relations under Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in the Tuesday radio interview that an alliance with churches have yielded reforms to public service and charitable work. He said that six charities and three other organizations were given government grants in the amount of $1.7 million (4.5 billion forints) to develop their infrastructure.

Soltesz said that number of schools maintained by churches, social and child welfare institutions are growing constantly, while the role played by churches is growing.

Hungary and its leaders have come in for criticism from socialists and European leaders because of what are regarded as nationalist policies. Hungary was successful in deflecting hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants from its borders, directing them to Germany and other countries in the west. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently bolstered relations with another country of Eastern Europe that has also been criticized for its policy regarding migrants. 

Commenting on recent EU measures connected to Poland, Orban said on December 22,“if somebody attacks Poland, they attack the whole of central Europe. Hungary’s interest is to show solidarity with the Poles and make it clear that no EU punishment can be introduced against them.” Poland’s deputy prime minister, Beata Szydło, has gotten into verbal tangles with German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the latter’s criticisms of Polish immigration policy. Orban said that EU sanctions on Poland are “unfair and unreasonable.” He said, “Without Poland there is no strong central Europe … A sweeping majority of Poles share the same view about migration as Hungarians.”

“Tens of thousands of migrants have arrived in Poland from former Soviet areas plus more than a million Ukrainians but the EU refuses to take this into consideration. They consider something a problem only if it is a problem for Western countries,” he added.

In his Christmas message to fellow Hungarians, Orban said that his fellow citizens do not want to rename their Christmas markets and retreat behind concrete barriers, as has been the case in Western Europe. Published in Hungarian daily Magyar Idok, Orban said in a reference to the mass immigration besetting Western Europe, said “‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’” now means loving not only one’s neighbors but also protecting the homeland, families, culture, and European civilization.

Speaking of the tie between Christianity and European identity, Orban said, “Our culture is the culture of life. Our starting point, the alpha and omega of our philosophy is the value of life, the dignity every person received from God – without this, we couldn’t value ‘human rights’ and other modern phenomena either. And this is why is questionable for us, whether these can be imported into civilizations built on different pillars.”

Orban said, “The fundamentals of European life are under attack... We don’t want our Christmas markets to be renamed, and we definitely don’t want to retreat behind concrete blocks (…) We don’t want our Christmas masses to be surrounded by fear and distress. We don’t want our women, our daughters to be harassed in the New Year’s Eve crowd.”

“We, Europeans are Christians. This is ours, this is how we live,” Orban declared while adding that Christian culture, just like the human immune system, will be sorely missed if it becomes absent. “Europe’s immune system is being deliberately weakened. They want us to stop being who we are. They want us to become those who we don’t want to be. They want us to mix with people from another world and to change in order to make it trouble-free. In the light of Christmas candles, we can clearly see the attacks against Christian culture, the attempts to dissolve Europe. They want to take away our own life and change it to something which is not our life.”

Viktor Orban (center left) Beata Szydlo (center right)

The “enlightened life,” Orban said, is an abstract utopianism. “The year 2017 confronted European countries with a historic task. The national governments, elected by free European nations, free citizens, must protect Christian culture. Not against others, but for ourselves, for the protection of our families, nations, countries, Europe.”

“We have the right to our own life. And when we had the power for that, we protected it.”



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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