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Orbán meets with Pope Francis

Visits

From left: Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Pope Francis, the PM's wife Anikó Lévai, and Hungary's Ambassador to the Vatican Eduard Habsburg-Lothringen.

Image by Vatican Media/MTI

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Thursday, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

After the private audience with Pope Francis, Orbán told public media that "it follows from the logic of Hungarian history" that the country should view the center of Christianity, the Vatican, and the Holy Father "in a distinctive manner".

By accepting Pope Francis' invitation and traveling to the Vatican on his first official trip since an election win early in April, Orbán said he was "continuing a grand Hungarian tradition".

He said the war in Ukraine lends special significance to the visit, as Pope Francis is "well known for using his influence in the interest of peace". Hungary, too, takes the stand that peace should be achieved as soon as possible, he added.

Orbán said he invited Pope Francis to visit Hungary in the course of the coming year and got a "reassuringly positive response".

Hungary's reception of 640,000 refugees from Ukraine - the highest number of any country relative to population - was noted at the audience with the Pope, Orbán said.

"We're undertaking an unprecedented humanitarian campaign that has won acknowledgment and respect all around the world," he added.

He said the Vatican fosters spiritual, rather than political, ties with other countries and added that the most important shared understanding between the Vatican and the state of Hungary has taken shape over the issue of families.

"We all think, here in Rome, in the Vatican, and in Budapest, too, that the most important community of our age is the family. That is the ultimate refuge and shelter for modern man, which is why all of our efforts must be mobilized in the interest of protecting and strengthening that community, the most important community of the modern age, the family," he said.

"In that effort, we can count on the Holy Father," he added.

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