Pontiff Receives Hungarian Prime Minister

Country to Hold EU Presidency in 2011

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 6, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI received in audience today Viktor Orbán, the prime minister of Hungary, whose government will hold the rotating presidency of the European Union in the first semester of 2011.

A communiqué issued today by the Vatican press office noted the «cordial» atmosphere of the meeting, which takes place four days after the Hungary’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Gábor Győriványi, presented his letters or credence to the Pope.

«The prime minister outlined the country’s current social, economic, and political situation,» the Vatican statement said. «The importance of the Christian tradition in the life of the nation and the role of the Catholic Church for its renewal was emphasized.

«The next semester of Hungarian presidency of the European Union was then discussed, highlighting some convergences of vision between Hungary and the Holy See on major themes that concern the European continent.

«Finally, a few items regarding relations and cooperation in the region were covered.»
The Vatican noted that Orbán also met separately with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope’s secretary of state, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states.

Upon receiving Ambassador Győriványi in audience last week, Benedict XVI affirmed the centrality of the family and asserted that «Europe will no longer be Europe if this basic cell of the social construction disappears or is substantially transformed.»

Of the close to 10 million Hungarians, 54.5% are Catholics who lived for decades under Communism. The rest of the population (around 19%) belongs to communities of the Protestant Reformation. In the last census, 11.1% did not specify their religious affiliation, and 14.5% said they had no affiliation.

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