On 28 November 2023, Pope Tawadros II received Katalin Novák, President of the Republic of Hungary, and her accompanying delegation at the papal headquarters in Cairo.
The Hungarian President wrote a word in the VIP visitors book at the outset of her visit. She was warmly welcomed by the Pope who said: “I recall with great happiness my visit to your beautiful country last August and my participation in the wonderful celebration of Saint Stephen, as well as meeting you and the interesting discussions that took place between us at the time, and your interest in the issues of family, youth, children, and sound Christian upbringing.
“I also remember meeting Prime Minister Viktor Orban when he visited Egypt a few months ago, and how Egyptian and Hungarian relations developed in a positive way for the two friendly nations.”
The Pope talked of Egypt’s history and people: “Our country, Egypt, has a long history and a rich civilisation dating back to Pharaonic, Christian, and Islamic eras. We Egyptians have strong national unity that derives from the Nile River on the banks of which which we live, and which is the lifeblood of our beloved country.”
Pope Tawadros gave an overview of the history of the Coptic Church, saying: “As for the Church of Egypt, it was founded in the first century by Saint Mark the Apostle, who was martyred in the city of Alexandria in 68AD. Alexandria became the first city on the continent of Africa to gain faith in Christ, and the Coptic Church became the oldest public entity on the land of Egypt. It has a great history of faith, martyrdom, and monasticism. In every generation, and along twenty centuries, we have had capable teachers, righteous martyrs, and wise monks.
He concluded: “We are happy with your visit to Egypt and your country’s noble stances on international issues. We hope you spend an enjoyable time in our country and enjoy the beauty of its nature, climate, history and people.”
For her part, the President of Hungary expressed her happiness at meeting His Holiness, mentioning his’visit to Hungary and her reception of him at the Presidential Palace.
She also mentioned that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi received her on 27 November, and that this was the first time they met. She described the meeting as positive, during which a long discussion took place which revealed great compatability of views on the issues discussed in their conversation.
She hinted that the fact that both President Sisi and herself believe in God also made their conversation more compatible. She added that Hungarians and Egyptians share many common humanitarian values.
President Novák expressed her fascination with Egyptian civilisation and the Pharaonic monuments and antiquities she had seen.
She praised the coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Egypt, and the role of Pope Tawadros in supporting rapprochement between Muslims and Christians.
The Hungarian President stressed her country’s endeavor to contribute to bringing peace to all war regions, especially Gaza. She stressed Hungary’s rejection of all forms of war, violence, and aggression. She pointed out that in the coming days, she will meet Pope Francis and will call on him to make increased efforts to bring peace to all areas of conflict.
President Novák then accompanied by the Pope to visit Saint Mark’s Grand Cathedral, then visited al-Boutrossiya Church and learned about its history and the details of the suicide bombing that took place there in December 2016, claiming more than 20 lives and injuring many others. She also visited the Martyrs’ Shrine set up for them in the church and lit candles in front of church icons and in the shrine. Ms Novák met a group of those who were injured in the bombing, who were hosted by the State of Hungary to receive medical treatment there. She had a friendly conversation with one of the church workers, who is the wife of a church worker who was martyred in the same terrorist incident.
The meeting was attended by Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation.
28 November 2023