PM Orbán: I asked Pope Francis to support our efforts for peace

The logic of Hungarian history dictates that Hungary should hold the Vatican and the Holy Father, the center of Christianity, in especially high regard, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told Hungarian state media on Thursday following a private audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican. This was the PM’s first official trip since the elections.

According to Prime Minister Orbán, he was "following a great Hungarian tradition" by accepting the Holy Father's invitation as the first official foreign visit after his election victory.

PM Orbán said that the war in Ukraine gives his visit special significance, as the Holy Father is known to mobilize his influence for peace and Hungary's position is also that peace should be achieved as soon as possible.

In response to a question from the press, PM Orbán said that at the meeting, he had formally invited Pope Francis to visit Hungary next year, to which he had received an "encouragingly positive response.”

The prime minister said that Hungary has taken in the largest number of refugees from Ukraine as a percentage of its population - 640,000 - and had also taken in students who were not Ukrainian but had studied in Ukraine and would now probably be able to continue their studies in Hungary.

"We are running the biggest humanitarian operation ever. This is a source of recognition and respect all over the world," the prime minister said, adding that the Holy Father had also mentioned this and urged Hungary "not to give up this good habit.”

According to PM Orbán, Hungary has a spiritual relationship with the Vatican, not a political one. He added that the most important topic upon which both the Vatican and the Hungarian state agreed was in regard to families. "We all think here in Rome, in the Vatican and in Budapest that the most important community of our time is the family. It is the last refuge and the last stronghold for modern man, and therefore we must mobilize all our efforts to protect and strengthen this community,” PM Orbán said.