Hungary’s State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians and the Hungary Helps Program, Tristan Azbej, says Hungary has supported hundreds of thousands of persecuted Christians worldwide.
He spoke after briefing representatives of the Visegrád Group: Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
The state secretary told the conference in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava that he has spent six-years working to expand the Hungary Helps program to persecuted Christians in more than 50 countries.
But he expressed concern about the “disinterest and denial” Hungary encountered earlier when seeking cooperation with other countries.
Mr. Azbej noted that while over 300 million people are discriminated against because of their Christian faith worldwide, in his words, some Western politicians try to deny that fact.
He stressed that Hungary works directly with local churches and religious organizations and has helped more than 500,000 people worldwide.
Mr. Azbej met with Pope Francis on 25 August as part of the delegation of Hungarian President Katalin Novák.
Earlier in Budapest, the state secretary praised Pope Francis for supporting Hungary’s program helping persecuted Christians, including those in Iraq.
“I was able to greet the Holy Father briefly in Mosul during the papal visit to Iraq in March 2021,” he said. “And while standing in front of Pope Francis in Mosul and starting to tell him my prepared speech about the Hungary Helps program, the Syriac Catholic bishop intervened and summarized it in one sentence. He said: ‘Holy Father, if it weren’t for some Catholic charity organizations and the Hungarian government who came to assist us in 2016, then there would be no Christian presence in Iraq’,” Azbej recalled.
He noted that the initiative is now gaining support among other governments within the Visegrád Group countries, and says cooperation has also started with neighboring Slovenia.