Hungarian Bishops Defend Life on Feast of Holy Innocents

News: World News
by Martina Moyski  •  •  December 30, 2019   

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BUDAPEST, Hungary ( - Hungarian bishops issued a statement re-confirming Church teaching and the importance of protecting "conceived human life" on Dec. 28, the feast of the Holy Innocents.

The delegation of 20 diocesan bishops and auxiliary bishops of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops' Conference laid out arguments steadfastly affirming the value of life from conception to death in a country that has seen 6 million babies aborted since 1956 — almost as many as children born in Hungary during that period.

The prelates acknowledged the uphill battle of pro-life advocates when the "overwhelming majority" of society believes in "the importance of free self-determination" and look "to terminate a pregnancy for difficult living conditions and housing shortages."

The prelates alluded to the admonition of St. Matthew in verse 6:25 of his Gospel:

But be careful, dear Gentiles, we must not sin in order to alleviate ourselves, or to do evil in order to make it good. ... The Creator will not forsake those who trust in Him! ... Do not worry about your livelihood, what you eat or what you drink, or your body, what you put on! Ye shall seek first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, and ye shall receive all the rest of it.

They also pointed to the physical and psychological damage of abortion:

When pregnancy occurs, the entire maternal body switches to raising the fetus. ... Blood circulation takes new paths to where the baby is to be born, and if this child is removed, they are suddenly brutally disturbed. The body has started to function, causing a shock to the mother's body that is difficult to recover from and has damaging traces. Because conscience moves in parents, especially mothers ... family peace is broken, and as often as a child born in the world corrects a bad marriage, it is just as often the case that the abandoned child spoils a good marriage.

Six million babies have been aborted since 1956 — almost as many as children born in Hungary during that period.

The bishops cited "great people" in history who, if their parents had aborted beyond an arbitrary number of children, "would have been a great loss for humanity." Among them:

  • St. John Vianney, the fourth child
  • Blessed Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam, the secular apostle of the poor of Paris, the fourth
  • Painter Hans Memlingm, the sixth
  • William Shakespeare, the third
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the seventh
  • Johann Sebastian Bach, the eighth
  • Joseph von Fraunhofer, the great physicist, the 10th
  • Benjamin Franklin, the 16th
  • St. Ignatius of Loyola, the 13th

The bishops also invoked the Scripture verse their episcopal predecessors cited in 1956, a pivotal year in which Hungarians sought to overthrow atheistic communism; when that failed, hope for many Hungarians was dashed: "Before I formed thee in the bowels of thy mother, I knew thee: and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee" (Jeremiah 1:5).

Underscoring their belief that God has put in man's nature parental love, making the deliberate killing of the preborn child a sin, they cited section 2270 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception."

Echoing Pope St. John Paul II, they emphasized how the father and the larger family must step up "in a seemingly hopeless situation." The father and family members living near the mother are encouraged to stand with expectant mothers.

"We want to encourage these mothers to seek help from their extended family, the State and Church social networks. The generous God always offers alternatives," they said. "Look for a real solution other than abortion, or adopt a child, as countless well-off couples would happily raise the child."

The bishops also quoted Pope Francis: "No human being is incompatible with life, either because of its age, its state of health or its quality of life. Every fetus that announces itself in a woman's womb is a gift that changes the story of a family: a father and a mother, grandparents and siblings."

Before 1953 in Hungary, abortion was only allowed to save the mother's life. In 1953 and 1956, new laws legalized abortion until 12 weeks of pregnancy, in cases of socioeconomic factors. In 1973, although abortion was still allowed for social reasons, the list of acceptable reasons was reduced.

Government Shifts Pro-Life

The constitution of Hungary, enacted in 2012, states that human life will be protected from the moment of conception.

The administration of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán publicly encourages women to give birth. His government helps arrange adoptions, gives aid to families, encourages religious education and facilitates ethics courses in the public education system.

The government organized a pro-life campaign in 2011 where posters were shown with an image of a baby in the womb accompanied by the plea, "Let Me Be Born!"

Hungarian government pro-life campaign poster

As a result, from 2010–2015, around 9,000 fewer abortions were performed in Hungary.

Currently, however, Hungary's abortion rate remains above the European average. Tünde Fűrész, deputy state secretary responsible for family and demographic policy, has said that the relatively high rate is "fundamentally a characteristic of all Eastern European nations" and could also be explained as a "heritage of the communist period."

The bishops gave "thanks to God for all who have said yes [to life]" and encouraged "everyone to dare to accept and unfold the gift of life," adding:

May our parents be blessed who received our plea to this world with a sacrificial soul. Blessed be our mother, who was careful not to take any action that might be harmful to us there under her heart. Blessed be our father, who took care of our mother because of us. Our parents waited with pleasure, guessed our sex, chose our name, prepared the cradle for us! The Father in Heaven should pay them for their goodness and Our Lady should love them; we thank them for keeping us alive and not killing us!

The president of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops' Conference is Bp. András Veres of Győr, noted for his conservative views.

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