BUDAPEST (ChurchMilitant.com) - Speakers at Hungary's 2nd International Conference on Christian Persecution are calling out Europe for silently witnessing the persecution of millions of Christians and doing little to help.
At the opening of the three-day conference in Budapest on Tuesday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán observed that 80% of religious persecution worldwide targets Christians, while Europe's Christian politicians quietly stand by.
"Four out of five people persecuted for their faith are Christians," said Orbán, "and over and over Europe remains silent."
"A mysterious force shuts the mouths of European politicians and cripples their arms," he added. "Christians are not allowed to be mentioned on their own, only together with other groups that are being persecuted for their faiths."
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó backed up Orbán with likeminded observations.
During the conference, Sziijártó remarked, "Whenever I try to raise the topic of persecuted Christians in EU minister's meetings everybody says: Peter, better say 'religious minorities.' Well I WANT to say 'persecuted Christians.'"
Eduard Habsburg, Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See, told Church Militant the media's coverage of the conference is needed because Europe won't speak up for persecuted Christians.
"I can feel a very strong echo in the media," he commented. "And this is very important because the voices who call out about the persecution of Christians are still feeble voices in a resounding silence in most of Europe."
He still struggles to grasp how so many people can remain silent while millions of fellow Christians are being persecuted for the same faith.
"I ask myself why people suddenly turn quiet when you begin to speak about the plight of Christians all over the world," Habsburg continued. "I think it is an unpleasant reality that out of 10 people who are persecuted for their faith, eight are Christians."
The problem of Christian persecution is massive, according to the U.S. Department of State (DOS). The DOS posted an intervention by Hungary in July which estimated some "245 million Christians are being persecuted all over the world."
Habsburg favorably compared the current conference with the first conference on Christian persecution hosted by Hungary in 2017.
"I am very impressed by the strong atmosphere at this conference; the number of participants has doubled since two years ago," he noted.
He also sees signs of hope:
In Hungary three years ago I had decided to do something about it and we are very happy to report that other countries like the United States are strong voices against discrimination of religion. And also in Europe, other countries are waking up to the cries of our persecuted brethren.
During the conference, Orbán revealed two motives for aiding persecuted Christians.
He first sees it as an obligation of justice to protect such people from harm.
"Hungarians believe Christian values lead to peace and happiness and this is why our Consitution states that protection of Christianity is an obligation for the Hungarian state, it obligates us to protect Christian communities throughout the world suffering persecution," he recalled.
His second motive centers on the preservation of Hungary itself. He sees Hungary's future closely tied to the fate of persecuted Christians.
Group photo for the amazing Budapest conference on Christian persecution. pic.twitter.com/p1pV2Bizyu— Thomas D. Williams (@tdwilliamsrome) November 26, 2019
"I'm convinced that in order to save Europe, those who could provide us with the biggest help are those whom we're helping right now," said Orbán. "We're sowing a seed, giving the persecuted what they need and getting back from them the Christian faith, love and persistence."
He believes Christian culture is absolutely necessary for the survival of his country and other European nations.
Europe can only be saved, he observed, if it "returns to the source of its real values: its Christian identity."
He then put the physical violence directed at Christians within the context of attacks made on Christian culture at large.
"It's not just the people and the communities but also the culture as a whole that is being subjected to an organized and comprehensive attack," he emphasized. "Even in the land of our culture, our civilization, the most successful Christian civilization to date: Europe."
These attacks are being carried out through "the replacement of the population, immigration, stigmatization, insults and the muzzle of political correctness," he noted.
Several other high-profile speakers addressed the conference, including bishops: Bp. Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Catholic diocese of Sokoto, Nigeria; Mar Gewargis III, Catholic Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East; Cdl. Péter Erdő, Primate of Hungary and archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest; and Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East.
Many warnings concerning the escalating violence in Syria went unheeded, the Orthodox patriarch recalled.
"After five years of sounding alarm, our cries haven't been heard by many, few tangible steps taken to counter this real threat to our existence as indigenous people in [the] land of our forefathers," he said.