The Hungarian Foreign Minister said that Europe ignores its Christian roots to its own peril, and its lack of identity makes it difficult to understand or respect other traditions.
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, pulled no punches in describing Europe’s dearth of values because of its refusal to embrace its own history.
“While everyone speaks very hypocritically about tolerance and accepting others,” Szijjártó said, “we must ask how it is possible to respect others with their religions, traditions, and history if we don’t respect our own.”
“So if you don’t respect your own culture, heritage and religion, you will not be able to respect those of others. That’s our understanding at least,” he said.
The Foreign Minister was in Italy to oversee the rebuilding of a parish church in the town of Tolentino that suffered structural damage during recent earthquakes. After receiving an appeal for aid, the Hungarian government donated 480,000 euros to the church of the Sacred Heart and Saint Benedict in Tolentino to pay for its reconstruction.
The church was hit by a 6.6 magnitude earthquake that struck central Italy on October 30.
Knowing that the Hungarian government is committed to rediscovering and safeguarding the Christian roots of Europe, the prior of the church, Andrea Carradori, wrote to Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán appealing for aid, and received a favorable response.
In his interview with Breitbart News, Minister Szijjártó said that during his visit he spoke with engineers and planners of the reconstruction, which will begin at the end of this month and will conclude in November with a re-inauguration of the church.
Last fall, Hungary became the first country in the world to establish a government department dedicated to addressing the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Europe.
“Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world,” Szijjártó told Breitbart. “Four out of every five people killed for their faith are Christians, yet for some reason this fact has not been duly recognized or addressed,” he said.
To date, Szijjártó said, the Hungarian government has donated 5 million euros to aid persecuted Christians in the Middle East. “We don’t really understand why people don’t speak out about the fate of the Christian communities in the Middle East where they suffer intense persecution, discrimination, and threats to their lives,” he said.
“We don’t like the policy of bringing them away from their homeland, because by doing so you eliminate the Christian communities there,” he said. So Hungary has opted to offer financial help to the persecuted Christians in the local communities.
“We gave 1 million euros to the Syrian catholic church,” he said, “another million euros to the Syrian orthodox church. In Iraq, we rebuilt houses for 200 Christian families who will now be able to return. We spent almost another half million covering the expenses of repairing a hospital in Erbil.”
“We also made the decision to reconstruct Christian churches in Lebanon because we want to help these communities to be able to stay,” he said.
By contrast, Szijjártó said, much of Europe has bought into an unhealthy form of secularism, embarrassed about their Christian faith.
“Many European nations aspire to being cosmopolitan, and view Christianity as retrograde, unmodern and outdated,” he said. “We hold the opposing view.”
“Christianity is critical for the future of Hungary and of Europe, because neither the nation nor the continent can be successful without getting back to the Christian roots. These are the values upon which the whole European integration was founded,” he said.
“Historically, European integration was most successful when it was based on true democratic values and Christian democratic policies,” he said.
“I think that as we move further from our Christian roots—from the anchors of our civilization—we lose ground, and when you lose ground you simply have no hope for a better future,” he said.
Szijjártó said that his country is concerned that the western world has fallen into a hypocritical approach toward religious persecution.
“If you look at declarations or conclusions or decisions of European or global formats you will hardly ever find the expression ‘protection of Christian communities.’ You might find reference to the protection of religious minorities, but why is there never a mention of Christians as the most persecuted religion in the world?” he asked.
“We see a very worrying signal that Christianophobia is becoming the last acceptable form of discrimination.”
“This is something we find entirely unacceptable, entirely unacceptable,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome