Budapest Report: all that must be known about modern age Christian persecution – Part One
At the end of March, the report discussing Christian persecution worldwide has been published for the fourth time, entitled: The Budapest Report. The report that deals with the year 2020 was supported by the Government of Hungary, the Hungary Helps Program, and the University of Public Service's professional cooperation. In the document, the authors discuss the background, current state and problems of modern-day Christian persecution, giving an account of the Hungarian effort in helping the Persecuted Christians over the 430 pages of the report. The report was published in Hungarian and in English.
The general publication – whose original title is the ‘Budapest Report on Christian Persecution‘ – starts off with the preface written by Viktor Orbán, Prime minister of Hungary and with the opening remarks of Cardinal Péter Erdő. Among the authors of the opening researches the reader can find Tristan Azbej, State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians and the Hungary Helps Program and Balázs Orbán, Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office. The authors of the regional researches – among many others – were Károly Gergely, Eszter Rebeka Józsa, Viktor Marsai, Jacqueline Isaac, Arthur and Nathan Johnson. In the reflections, we can find the papers written by Miklós Szánthó and Ágnes Környei among many others, and in the topic of Christian protection the papers of Hajnalka Szilágyi-Kiss, Tamás Tóth and Máté Szaplonczay help the reader gain a better understanding of the topics.
Orbán: Christian persecution is a taboo topic in Europe
In the preface of the report, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán seeks admission that now, around the globe, many people have lost their lives because of their Christian faith; Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. He adds: Christian persecution is a taboo topic in Europe. Many refer to the atrocities committed against Christians as a human rights issue, even though those willing to stand for Christianity are targeted. He is proud that Hungary is one of those few countries openly helping the persecuted Christians. Viktor Orbán also highlights that: to really help, one must open the eyes of the world.
The prime minister brings his preface to a close with the remarks: “For centuries Hungary was referred to as the protector of Europe, the shield of Christianity. This past drives us today, that following the Christian principle of the culture of action, we change words to acts. And with great humbleness, but with our responsibilities fulfilled as serious as our conscience dictates, the model, that we worked out to help our persecuted Christians brethren, has been working well for years”-
Péter Erdő: The western Church’s role is crucial in helping the persecuted
Péter Erdő, the Cardinal Primate and Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest writes in his opening remarks: “The fact of Christian persecution is supported by the yearly issued human rights report and by the Budapest report as well.” He highlighted the importance of the western Church helping the persecuted, underlining that even Pope Francis called for attention to the matter.
The cardinal finds the Budapest report on Christian persecution a good initiative. It reports on the state of the Eastern Church as well, a topic where many western Christians have little knowledge of – and the report records the successes and initiatives, besides the pain and suffering; it gives hope regarding the plight of persecuted Christians, recalling that they are not alone in their fight.
András Koltay: Europe will, as expected, continue to fight its own battles
András Koltay, Rector of the University of Public Service, wrote in his opening remarks: to spread the Christian values continuously, Christians need the freedom to exercise their religion. From his point of view, in the upcoming years —decades, Europe will be expected to continue to fight its own battles, not lastly with its past and heritage. He highlighted that the University of Public Service would take its part in this work and “publish the Budapest report with great joy”.
Tristan Azbej: There is hope; the Hungarian model works
Tristan Azbej, State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians and the Hungary Helps Program, in his opening study, gives an overview of the current state of persecuted Christians and discusses the aid provided by the Hungarians. As he writes, “up until 2020 from the previous year the number of persecuted Christians has risen from 245 million to 260 million people.” He adds: “Christian persecution is not limited to the Middle-East, but it is a global issue.”
According to the state secretary’s paper, it is thanks to the economic success in the last ten years that Hungary has had the means to help the Middle East’s Christians; the area received this help via the Hungary Helps Program. In the general premises, Tristan Azbej mentions, that according to the latest data of the American organisation Open Doors, in one year, nearly three-thousand Christians were murdered because of their faith in Jesus Christ, almost nine thousand five hundred churches suffered an attack, and more than three thousand seven hundred Christians were imprisoned or held in custody.
In the results section, he goes through the achievements in the year 2020, such as the Scholarship Program to Christian Youth, a program made for persecuted Christians. The state secretary writes: “The state of Christians is growing ever dire, but the international publicity is willing to neglect the importance of this issue.” He highlights that there is hope because the implementation of the Hungarian model over the last four years – which brings help where it’s required – has worked well. Tristan Azbej expresses his hopefulness that the international partners will address the benefits of the Hungarian model and adapt the practice principles to involve local religious communities in their local, direct humanitarian work.