Hungarian Faithful Fear to Enter a Europe Without Christianity

Cardinal Erdo of Budapest Says EU Entry Isn’t Painless

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MILAN, Italy, NOV. 28, 2003 ( Cardinal Peter Erdo of Budapest says that the Hungarian faithful fear their country’s entry in the European Union, whose image they associate with the «denial of Christian values.»

Invited to speak as part of an introductory course for theology at the Catholic University of Milan, Archbishop Erdo, 51, the youngest cardinal in the world, told the Italian newspaper Avvenire that Hungary’s admission to the European Union is not a painless process.

«Let’s tell the truth: Among the faithful there are strong fears because they associate the image of the European Union to the denial of Christian values, to euthanasia, the institutional crisis of marriage,» he explained Wednesday.

«Without Christianity, Europe is without a heart,» the cardinal added. «But we must be realists: The European Union is our destiny, we cannot stay outside. There are risks and opportunities.»

«I believe firmly in the Europe of Christian humanism, in the Europe that breathes with two lungs, as John Paul II always asks us,» he continued. «And for a small country like ours, it is fundamental to come together again with other nations in an organic whole, within a perspective of genuine reconciliation.»

Considered one of Eastern Europe’s leading experts in canon law, the former rector of the Catholic University of Budapest today represents the hopes of the Church in Hungary, which is reviving 14 years after the fall of Communism.

Commenting on the situation of the Church in his country, Cardinal Erdo lamented the lack of priests: «In the whole of Hungary, there are only 2,000 priests for 6.5 million Catholics, who represent over 60% of the population.»

It is only thanks «to foreign priests, especially Poles, Frenchmen and Italians, that our Church is able to carry out its pastoral functions,» he said.

What is evident in Hungary is the «greater commitment of the laity, particularly religion teachers,» he said. Ecclesial movements, «which collaborate actively with the parishes,» are present too, he added.

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