Pope Benedict took the occasion of welcoming Hungary’s new ambassador Monday morning as an opportunity to encourage the country to defend the role of the family in Europe. In particular, the Holy Father highlighted the right of parents to be the "primary educators" of their children.
After Janos Balassa presented his Letters of Credence, the new ambassador of Hungary to the Holy See, was addressed in English by the Pope.
The Pope first spoke with Balassa about the "forces that govern economic and political affairs in the modern world," which he said need to be "built upon an ethical foundation, giving priority always to the dignity and the rights of the human person and the common good of humanity."
This task is one that Hungary is well-suited for by its "strong Christian heritage, stretching back over a thousand years," Pope Benedict pointed out. "Hungary," he added, "is well placed to assist in the promotion of these humane ideals within the European community and the wider world community, and it is my hope that our diplomatic relations will serve to support this vital dimension of your country's contribution to international affairs."
The importance of the family for a vibrant society was also emphasized by the Pope.
Drawing upon his message for the 2008 World Day of Peace, Benedict XVI reminded the new diplomat that the family is essential for "building peaceful community relations at every level." Unfortunately, the "vital cohesive role" of the family is "being called into question and even endangered as a result of misguided ways of thinking that at times find expression in aggressive social and political policies" in much of modern Europe, he lamented.
"It is my earnest hope," the Pope said, "that ways will be found of safeguarding this essential element of our society, which is the heart of every culture and nation."
"One of the specific ways government can support the family is by assuring that parents are allowed to exercise their fundamental right as the primary educators of their children, which would include the option to send their children to religious schools when they so desire," the Pontiff stated.
The difficult history of the Catholic Church in Hungary was also touched upon by Pope Benedict, who noted that "after decades of oppression, sustained by the heroic witness of so many Christians," the Church has emerged to "take her place in a transformed society, able once more to proclaim the Gospel freely. She seeks no privileges for herself, but is eager to play her part in the life of the nation, true to her nature and mission."