Hungarian Leader and Pope Talk About Church-State Relations

VATICAN CITY, JULY 4, 2002 ( John Paul II received Peter Medgyessy, the new Prime Minister of Hungary, in a private audience that touched on church-state affairs.

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«It was a great honor for the Prime Minister to be received by His Holiness in person, when so little time has passed since he took office,» the Prime Minister’s spokesman, Zoltan Gal, said today.

Medgyessy, 59, took office last month, after winning the April legislative elections as the candidate of the Socialist Party. A banker by profession, Medgyessy was Finance Minister in the previous Socialist government.

Gal said the Prime Minister wished to emphasize «the determination of the Hungarian government to guarantee the legal and financial conditions for the churches’ activity.»

A Vatican Press Office statement confirmed that both the meeting between the Pope and Prime Minister, as well as the latter’s meeting with collaborators of the Pontiff, served to exchange «opinions on church-state relations.»

The meeting affirmed «faithful respect of the agreements established between the [two] sides and a constructive dialogue with the local episcopate for the material and spiritual progress of the nation,» the statement said.

The Prime Minister later met Argentine Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for general affairs of the Vatican State Secretariat, and Monsignor Celestino Migliore, undersecretary for relations with states.

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