02 September 2021, The Tablet

Hungary and the Vatican – a very uneasy alliance

Papal visit to Hungary

Hungary and the Vatican – a very uneasy alliance

One of two stamps issued by the Vatican Philatelic Office to mark the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest
© 2021 Vatican Philatelic Office


While Viktor Orbán claims respect for ‘faith, family and nation’, tension between Hungary’s ever more authoritarian government and the Catholic Church is increasing

The 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest has not yet started and Pope Francis is not due to celebrate the closing Mass till the morning of 12 September. But the memorial­isation of the event has already begun. On Sunday 22 August, the lakeside town of Balatonfüred in western Hungary, 80 miles away, witnessed the setting up of a giant cross in honour of the occasion – the first of 21 to be erected around the country at the government’s expense.

Speaking after the blessing of the cross by the celebrity Franciscan friar Csaba Böjte, state secretary Péter Zámbó told onlookers the crosses “will remind us of our belonging together, our Hungarianness”. The sacrificial death of Jesus Christ for all humanity seemed to have been temporarily overlooked. The well-funded event and surrounding nationalist rhetoric pithily symbolises the “political Christianity” now characteristic of the Fidesz party, which has dominated Hungarian politics since its landslide victory and return to power in the 2010 general election.

Get Instant Access

Continue Reading

Register for free to read this article in full

Subscribe for unlimited access

From just £30 quarterly

  Complete access to all Tablet website content including all premium content.
  The full weekly edition in print and digital including our 179 years archive.
  PDF version to view on iPad, iPhone or computer.

Already a subscriber? Login