Papal Address to New Hungarian Envoy

«Faith … Is a Purifying Force for Reason»

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address that Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience the new ambassador from Hungary to the Holy See, Gabor Gyorivanyi, who presented his letters of credence.
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Mr. Ambassador,
I welcome you with joy on this solemn occasion of the presenting the letters of credence that accredit you as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Hungary to the Holy See, and I thank you for your kind words. I am grateful for the deferent greetings that you have given me on behalf of the president, Dr. Pal Schmitt, and of the government, which I am pleased to return. At the same time I would like to ask you to assure your fellow citzens of my sincere affection and benevolence.
After the renewal of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Hungary in 1990, it has been possible to develop new trust for an active and constructive dialogue with the Catholic Church. At the same time I cherish the hope that the profound wounds of that materialistic vision of man, which took hold of the hearts and of the community of citizens of your country for almost 45 years, can continue to be healed in a climate of peace, liberty and respect for the dignity of man.
Without a doubt the Catholic faith forms part of the fundamental pillars of the history of Hungary. When, in the distant year 1,000, the young Hungarian Prince Stephen received the royal crown that Pope Sylvester II sent him, joined to it was the mandate to give space and a homeland in that land to faith in Jesus Christ. The personal piety, sense of justice and human virtues of this great king are a lofty point of reference which serves as stimulus and imperative, today as then, to all those entrusted with a government post or other similar responsibility. Not expected, of course, is that the state impose a specific religion; rather, it should guarantee the liberty to profess and practice the faith. Still, politics and Christian faith touch one another. Of course, faith has its specific nature as encounter with the living God, which opens new horizons to us beyond the realm proper of reason. However, at the same time it is a purifying force for reason itself, enabling it to carry out its task better and to see better what is its own. It is not a question of imposing norms or ways of behavior on those who do not share the faith. It is simply about the purification of reason, which wishes to help to make what is good and just able, here and now, to be recognized, and then also realized (cf. encyclical «Deus Caritas Est,» No. 28).
In the last years, little more than 20, since the fall of the Iron Curtain, an event in that Hungary had a prominent role, your country has had an important place in the community of nations. For six years now, Hungary has also been a member of the European Union. With this it makes an important contribution to the chorus of more voices of the States of Europe. At the beginning of next year, for the first time, it will be Hungary’s turn to assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Hungary is called in a particular way to be mediator between East and West. Already the Sacred Crown, legacy of King Stephen, in the union of the Greek circular crown with the Latin crown placed as an arch over it — both bear the face of Christ and are crowned by the cross — shows how East and West must support and enrich one another from the spiritual and cultural patrimony and the intense profession of faith. We can also understand this as a leitmotiv for your country.
The Holy See notes with interest of the efforts of the political authorities to elaborate a change in the Constitution. Expressed has been the intention to make reference in the preamble to the legacy of Christianity. Also desirable is that the new Constitution be inspired by Christian values, particularly in what concerns the position of marriage and the family in society and the protection of life.
Marriage and the family constitute the decisive foundation for a healthy development of the civil society of countries and peoples. Marriage as a basic form of ordering the relationship between man and woman and, at the same time, as basic cell of the state community, has also been molded by biblical faith. Thus marriage has given Europe its particular aspect and its humanism, also and precisely because it has had to learn to acquire continually the characteristic of fidelity and of renunciation traced by it. Europe will no longer be Europe if this basic cell of the social construction disappears or is substantially transformed. We all know how much risk marriage and the family run today — on one hand, because of the erosion of its most profound values of stability and indissolubility, because of a growing liberalization of the right of divorce, and of the custom, increasingly widespread, of man and woman living together without the juridical form and protection of marriage, on the other, because of the different types of union which have no foundation in the history of the culture and of the law in Europe. The Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that imply a valuation of alternative models of the life of the couple and the family. These contribute to the weakening of the principles of the natural law and, hence, to the relativization of the whole of legislation, in addition to the awareness of values in society.
«As society becomes ever more globalized, it makes us neighbours but does not make us brothers» (encyclical «Caritas in Veritate,» No. 19). Reason is capable of guaranteeing equality between people and of establishing a civic coexistence, but in the end it is unable to found fraternity. This has its origin in a supernatural vocation of God, who created men out of love and taught us through Jesus Christ what fraternal charity is. Fraternity is, in a certain sense, the other side of liberty and equality. It opens man to altruism, to the civic sense, to care of the other. The human person, in fact, finds himself only when he overcomes the mentality centered on his own pretensions, and projects himself with an attitude of gratuitous gift and authentic solidarity, which responds much better to his community vocation.
The Catholic Church, as the other religious communities, has a not insignificant role in Hungarian society. She is committed on a large scale with her institutions in the field of school education and culture, in addition to social welfare and in this way contributes to the moral construction, truly useful, to your country. The Church trusts in being able to continue, with the support of the State, to carry out and intensify this service for the good of men and the development of your country. May collaboration between the state and the Catholic Church in this field grow also in the future and bring profit for all.
Illustrious Mr. Ambassador, at the beginning of your noble task I wish you a mission full of success and assure you at the same time the support of my collaborators. May Mary Most Holy, the Magna Domina Hungarorum, stretch her protecting hand over your country. From my heart I implore for you, Mr. Ambassador, for your family and for your men and women collaborators in the embassy, and for all the Hungarian people, the abundant divine blessing.
 [Translation by ZENIT]

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