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For Hungarians Christianity means not only theological traditions but also a social setting which has determined the conditions for human dignity, the family, the nation, the state and the church for more than a thousand years, state secretary for security policy Péter Sztáray said in a lecture marking the 25th memorial day of Saint Thomas of Canterbury in Esztergom, in northern Hungary.

“We have a people’s party government which rules in the spirit of Christian democracy … we have built a Christian democracy for the 21st century which guarantees human dignity, freedom and security, protects equal rights between men and women and the traditional family model, holds anti-Semitism at bay, defends our Christian culture and gives a chance for our nation to survive and prosper,” he said.

Hungarians today expect Hungary and Europe to recognise the importance of Christianity and they see Europe as a Europe of nations which does not exclude others but insists on its values, Sztáray said.

Human Resources Minister Miklós Kásler held a lecture presenting changes in state and church organisation over history and the event was also addressed by Iain Lindsay, UK Ambassador to Hungary, partly in Hungarian.

Ties between the archiepiscopal seats of Esztergom and Canterbury go back to the 12th century, when Thomas Becket and Lukács Bánfi, who would become the Archbishop of Esztergom, formed a friendship during their studies in Paris. Some of the saint’s relics were salvaged and kept in Esztergom from 1538 after King Henry VIII ordered their destruction. After more than four centuries, Cardinal László Lékai donated some of them to the Archiepiscopacy of Canterbury.