The nation will remain strong if it stays faithful to its spiritual-intellectual and tangible heritage
The nation will remain strong if it stays faithful to its spiritual-intellectual and tangible heritage - said President of Hungary Katalin Novák at the opening ceremony of the Museum of Greek-Catholic Heritage in Nyíregyháza on Thursday, in the county capital of the Nyírség region.
On the second day of her two-day visit to Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County, Katalin Novák also explained that the members of the Greek-Catholic Church are important to us Hungarians also because they bring the light of the East into Western Christian culture.
The Head of State added that it is a fundamental Hungarian experience – engrained in our very genes – that East and West cannot exist without each other. She pointed out that although this dual determination has always been there in the consciousness of Hungarian poets, authors and artists, for few was it as clear and understandable as for Greek Catholics.
With them, culturally speaking, Eastern Christianity arrives in Western Christianity, and of this encounter is born not only a peaceful coexistence but also an enrichment of the Christian faith and culture – the Head of State said.
In her speech, Katalin Novák underlined that a nation will remain strong if it stays faithful to its spiritual, intellectual and tangible heritage, and as Hungarian statehood is as old as Hungarian Christianity, in this context our values can be interpreted in the "mutual influence of nation and Christianity on each other”.
"Christianity has been the point of reference that has kept our country in the mazes of history, our churches have been the institutions that have provided refuge and hope in the most difficult times, that have provided role models and leaders when the state has not been able to do so, or not for the whole country." – Katalin Novák stressed.
The President said that fundamental values have remained just as relevant today as they have always been, and declared that even the loudest efforts to make us believe the opposite will be in vain, however much they to try to reinterpret the smallest, most intimate and strongest nucleus of the community, the family, declaring this model obsolete or the practice of faith undesirable.
"Our values have remained the same that they were two thousand, one thousand or a hundred years ago. On this, we will not yield, because we cannot do so " – the Head of State declared.
At the event, Katalin Novák stressed that this is precisely why churches are needed in Hungary. We need them to give us spiritual support, to teach, educate, nurse and heal us.
An active participant in this work is the Greek Catholic Church, which in recent years has strengthened its organisational structure, is doing reliable work in the public interest, provides outstanding assistance to refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, and is a partner of the Hungarian government, the President added.
She also said that churches are important "beacons" in the turbulent modern world, with millennia of experience and knowledge, giving faith, courage to stand up for our values, hope and a future for humanity.
Today, in many places in Europe and the world, there is indifference towards Christian values. More and more people are turning away from the churches, but Hungary strengthens and values its churches, building on the solid foundation they provide for the nation. - said Katalin Novák, thanking Hungary’s Churches for their work.
She underlined that in the past ten years, three thousand churches have been renovated and two hundred more were built in the Carpathian Basin. Since 2010, the number of students studying in church-run schools more than doubled and reached 241 thousand, and in 2022, 327 thousand children received religious education.
Speaking about the Museum, the President said that it will fill a long-standing gap in the cultural life of the nation, and will be a meeting point and a reference point for the Greek Catholic past and future.
At the ceremony, the building that will now house the museum collection was blessed and consecrated by the Greek Catholic Metropolitan Fülöp Kocsis.
In his speech, the prelate said that we can pay tribute to our ancestors by loyally accepting, credibly living and then handing down this treasury in an understandable way, enriched by our own faith, to our descendants.
István Seszták, Director of the Office of the Archdiocese of Hajdúdorog, said that the almost two billion forints needed for the construction of the thematic museum, which covers a surface of about two thousand square metres, and for the expansion of the college's capacity in the building were provided by the Hungarian government and other donors.
In addition to the exhibition rooms, the building houses a painter's restoration workshop, storage rooms and community spaces. The four floors of the exhibition space will house a permanent exhibition of Greek Catholic ecclesiastical history and art, while the ground floor will be used for temporary exhibitions and artistic cultural events.