Hungary announced on September 6 the creation of a new government department to help persecuted Christians around the world.
“Protecting Christian communities around the world is an important criteria for the Government and the goal is to help families living in these communities," Minister of National Economy Mihály Varga said, according Hungarian news agency MTI.
The creation of the new office follows Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban’s meeting in Rome in August with Pope Francis and other church leaders from the Middle East.
Eduard von Habsburg, the Hungarian ambassador to the Holy See, said that the new department was conceived out “of several years of the Hungarian government quietly helping Christians in the Middle East,” by securing visas for persecuted Christians and other persecuted minorities, the National Catholic Register reports.
The government also helped to build a Christian school in Erbil, Iraq. Habsburg said: "[Following] the philosophy that the best way [for the government] to give them a chance is to help them to stay at home, in their countries and to find help there... to help them have the chance of receiving help on the spot,” according to Christian Times.
According to Crux, a Catholic news station, Habsburg hopes that other European nations will follow in Hungary’s example.
“Hungary considers itself Christian, and is interested in the situation of Christians all around the world. It wants to extend a helping hand,” Habsburg said.
The department will be under the Hungarian Ministry for Human Capacities and will be headed by former deputy ambassador to Italy Tamás Török.
"Today, Christianity has become the most persecuted religion, where out of five people killed [for] religious reasons, four of them are Christians," Minister for Human Capacities Zoltan Balog said, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA). "In 81 countries around the world, Christians are persecuted, and 200 million Christians live in areas where they are discriminated against. Millions of Christian lives are threatened by followers of radical religious ideologies."
Already, $1.13 million USD has been given to the department of the $3.35 million that will be allocated to gather and analyze information on persecuted Christians as well as fund government officials’ visits to areas where Christians are being persecuted.