After meeting Pope Francis on Thursday, Hungarian President Katalin Novák gives an interview to Vatican News and says her Christian faith and identity as a mother help guide her actions as the country’s first female president.
By Christopher Wells
The need to support families and encourage young people to start a family; the importance of women leaders, especially in times of conflict; and the prospect of a papal visit to Hungary were all on the table Thursday, as Pope Francis met with Hungary’s first female president, Katalin Novák.
After their nearly 40-minute audience, the Hungarian told Vatican News that her meeting with Pope Francis “was indeed a very inspiring encounter.”
The women at the head
Among the topics discussed during their conversation was “the importance of having women leaders everywhere, or at least having more women leaders in these times of conflict,” President Novak said in the statement. interview conducted in the studios of Radio Vatican. She commented, “It’s a chance, as a female president, to somehow step in in a good way and move a conflict forward from a frozen status.”
President Novák also noted that taking on a leadership role entails “an enormous responsibility…which makes you accountable for what you say, how you say it, your behavior, your appearance and your message. “.
As a mother of three, she said: “I’m not just a female president, but also a mum…and that makes it much easier for me to understand, I think, what it means, on a daily basis, to struggle[avecceimbalance…offamilylifeandtheprofessionalcareer[withthisimbalance…offamilylifeandtheprofessionalcareer”[aveccedéséquilibre…delaviefamilialeetdelacarrièreprofessionnelle[withthisimbalance…offamilylifeandtheprofessionalcareer”
She said she hopes “being someone in a responsible position” who “loves her job” can help her be an even more credible witness “that having kids and having a family isn’t worth the hard to be abandoned”.
The importance of young families
President Novák highlighted “the importance of traditional families” and encouraging young people to have children and start a family as one of the main points of her conversation with Pope Francis.
Civil and religious leaders can work together to support the family, she said, emphasizing ‘the importance of traditional families’ and ‘the beauty of the privilege of giving birth to a child’ which is a unique gift of women .
“If we talk about it,” she said, “and if we pass that on to younger generations in a positive way, not contradicting anything, but just emphasizing the beauty and importance of motherhood and the traditional family, so I think we can help these young people, because having children is not just about money — it’s also about money, but it’s also about feelings. It’s something you can’t even describe, can’t even put into words if you haven’t experienced it.
President Novák said, “I think our common message is that traditional families must be safeguarded because the family is the cornerstone of our communities and of all our nations, and the cornerstone of our future.
Confess your faith
The Hungarian President also spoke with Pope Francis about the challenges faced by public figures when living their beliefs. As a leader and stateswoman, she said, “it’s not easy” to decide how to share her faith and how to be open and honest about her beliefs.
President Novák said she knew she was accountable to God and should turn to him, and added, “I know that my help, my support and my blessings will come from him.
Pope’s invitation to visit Hungary
During the papal audience, the Hungarian President also officially invited Pope Francis to visit her country and received assurances from the Holy Father that he intended to visit Hungary “with a little luck” in the first half of 2023.
President Novák said that during their conversation, the two leaders also touched on issues such as the persecution of Christians and how Hungary supports persecuted Christians around the world; and on the “demographic winter” that Pope Francis has so often pointed out, and which “we all face in the Western part of the world”.
Speaking about Hungary’s response to the latter, President Novák said: “Pope Francis was surprised to learn that in Hungary the number of marriages has doubled in the last ten years”, while abortions dropped by 50%.
Meeting at the Secretariat of State
After the meeting with Pope Francis, President Novák also met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, who was accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations.
“During the cordial discussions at the Secretariat of State, after recalling the Apostolic Journey to Budapest, last September, on the occasion of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, appreciation was expressed for the existing good bilateral relations,” reads -on in a statement from the Holy See. Press office released after the meetings.
The statement added, “The parties then focused on certain issues of common interest, such as the family, the promotion of the culture of life, youth and the situation of Christians in the Middle East.” Finally, he said, “attention turned to the war in Ukraine and the commitment to peace”.