Following her election in April, the new Hungarian President has been ceremoniously inaugurated into office. Katalin Novák became not only Hungary’s youngest head of state, but also the first female president. She had already taken office on Tuesday, but the church and state ceremony was held this Saturday morning. The inauguration began with an ecumenical service, which also served as a way to express the unity of the nation. The celebration was declared a national priority by the government, and several television stations broadcast the event live. In her speech at Kossuth Square in front of the Parliament, the new head of state stressed: “As President, I will strengthen the Hungarian people through my personal convictions. Through a set of values based on Christianity, in encouraging the transmission of life, the upbringing of children in love, the protection of human life and the family. Respect for one another, encouragement for the weak.”
This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute.
The inauguration of the new President, Katalin Novák, began with an ecumenical service in the Reformed Church in Kálvin Square in Budapest. This was no coincidence: the whole ceremony was set up to reflect the unity of the nation.
The service was celebrated by Calvinist Bishop Zoltán Balog, by Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and Primate of Hungary, further by Dr. Tamás Fabinyi, the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary, and Fülöp Kocsis, Greek Catholic Archbishop. Among others, former head of state János Áder, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Speaker of Parliament László Kövér also attended the mass.
Zoltán Balog, pastoral president of the Synod of the Reformed Church in Hungary, said in his homily that it was the first time that Catholics, Calvinists, and Evangelicals, “accompanied by the Jewish Sabbath prayer,” asked God’s blessing “for the first citizen of the country.”
This requires the president-elect to have “courage and humility” and to “always seek the way of Christ, regardless of her office or position,” the Calvinist bishop said.
Zoltán Balog called for this to become a new “self-evident truth” in Hungary, where the constitution states that the Hungarian state is Christian and that it is the duty of all state bodies to protect the country’s Christian culture.
Archbishop Péter Erdő stressed that Katalin Novák had always taken a clear and constructive stance on family and marriage.
The President was then blessed before the Lord’s Table by Reformed Church Bishop Zoltán Balog, Béla Kató, head of the Reformed Diocese of Transylvania, Fabiny Tamás, Archbishop Péter Erdő, Fülöp Kocsis, Ignatius Ephraim, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Nalja Kassab, President of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC). as well as Arsenios Kardamakis, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Austria. Slomó Köves, President of the Hungarian Jewish Community, sent his blessing in a letter.
Cardinal Péter Erdő blesses the President. Photo: Noémi Bruzák/MTI
Zoltán Balog blesses the President. Photo: Noémi Bruzák/MTI
Thereupon the supplications were led by Zoltán Balog from the Lord’s Table. Prayers were said, among others, by the former President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the President of the Friends of Hungary Foundation, the publisher of our news portal, E. Sylvester Vizi, as well as by his wife Veronika Ádám, by musicians Ákos Kovács and Dániel Gryllus, film director, producer, screenwriter, and journalist Fruzsina Skrabski, and publicist Erzsébet Schäffer.
In his prayer, E. Sylvester Vizi asked God that the new president may serve the nation in faith and love, that she may serve the 1,000-year-old traditions of our country in the best spirit, that she may set an example and give strength to others. Regarding her service, he said:
May the Lord be in your heart and on your lips, so that you may proclaim his gospel worthily and appropriately”
He also referred to the difficult historical times in Europe. In his prayer, he therefore asked the patron saint of Europe, St. Benedict, to support Katalin Novák.
President Novák and her husband. Photo: Noémi Bruzák/MTI
President Novák in the Reformed Church on Kálvin Square. Photo: Noémi Bruzák/MTI
Following the ecumenical service, an act of state took place in Kossuth Square.
After the lowering of the historical flags, while the Central Orchestra played the first movement of the Suite by Frigyes Hidas, László Kövér, President of the National Assembly, came on stage and presented the decision of the Parliament on the election of the President of the Republic.
Novák promises to be president of all Hungarians
After Kövér’s speech, the new President of Hungary gave her speech. Katalin Novák said that she came today with gratitude in her heart. She thanked her family and all Hungarians around the world for their trust. Novák further emphasized the pride of the Hungarian nation and its pursuit of sovereignty. She promised to be the President of all Hungarians, as she also bears responsibility for those whose trust she has not yet won.
The President stressed that after the torments of the 20th century, the 21st century envisages a better, more beautiful, more peaceful, and safer life for the Hungarian people, but at the moment a dark cloud casts a shadow over us, namely the war in neighboring Ukraine.
The President stressed that since 25 February we have taken in more than 700,000 Ukrainian refugees, and provided hundreds of millions of food donations for those left behind.
Hungary has passed the test of humanity with distinction. Thank you all very much!”
Novák summed up her stance on the war in 10 points:
1. We condemn Putin’s aggression.
2. We forever say no to all efforts attempting to restore the Soviet Union.
3. We want peace in Hungary and in our neighboring countries. We want to win peace, not war.
4. It is not our war, but it is also waged against us. We demand the investigation and punishment of war crimes!
5. We are not neutral. We stand on the side of innocent victims and justice. We will fulfill our obligations as part of the EU and NATO.
6. “We will not give up our sovereignty, which we have fought for so many times, under any circumstance,” Novák stressed.
7. We support Ukraine’s accession to the community of European countries.
8. Hungary is ready to make sacrifices for peace, but not to support decisions that would require greater sacrifices from the people of Hungary than they would cause pain to the Russian aggressor.
9. We are prepared to participate in the peace negotiations between the warring parties.
10. We have insisted on securing the rights of Hungarians living in Ukraine, and we will continue to do so now and after the war.
In her speech, the President also announced her next foreign trip to Poland. She will meet her counterpart Andrzej Duda on 17 May. She stressed her responsibility as President to show what Hungary means to her and what she thinks about our place in the world.
My actions will follow from this Hungarian world view (…) We are the same Hungarians who fought for our freedom in ’48 and ’56. (…)”
Novák stressed that national pride should not turn into national arrogance, nor should it become globalist cowardice. However, the President added that the cradle of sovereignty is the family, where the unity of the nation begins. She added that it is her task to find the depth and height where the natural belonging of the Hungarian people lies. She stressed that her commitment to her nation and homeland remains unchanged, and that she of course also has a responsibility to Hungarians whose values differ from hers.
As President, I will strengthen the Hungarian people through my personal convictions. Through a set of values based on Christianity, in encouraging the transmission of life, the upbringing of children in love, the protection of human life and the family. Respect for one another, encouragement for the weak.”
Novák said that she wants to be an ear, a heart and a mouth for those whom we see, hear and understand less now. At the end of her speech, she thanked the organizers and artists for their contribution and quoted the Hungarian hymn and the Lord’s prayer.
Lord, bless the Hungarian with gladness and with abundance, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.
President Katalin Novák and her family. Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI
Flag raising ceremony in front of the Hungarian Parliament. Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI
László Kövér, Speaker of the National Assembly, delivers his speech. Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI
Katalin Novák gives her speech on Kossuth Square in front of the Parliament building. Photo: MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák
Colorful cultural programs
During the ceremony in front of the Parliament building, Hungary’s outstanding pianists, János Balázs and Viktória Kádár, performed Ferenc Liszt’s Rákóczi March. The cultural program also included performances by Magdi Rúzsa and the Hungarian National Dance Ensemble.
In the afternoon, an open house was held at the Sándor Palace, to which Katalin Novák had cordially invited everyone in a Facebook post. As she wrote:
“Open House in the afternoon at the Sándor Palace!
Do you know where we receive visiting heads of state? Where the ambassadors hand in their credentials? Now you can find out! The Sándor Palace awaits you on Saturday. Come and visit the historical rooms of the Palace. The Castle Museum of Budapest History Museum, the Military Institute and Museum, the Hungarian Money Museum and Visitor Centre, the Széchényi National Library, the Hungarian National Gallery with its permanent exhibition, the Buda Palace Quarter with its beautifully restored St. Stephen’s Hall, the Hauszmann Exhibition and the renovated Riding Hall building, as well as the “A New World Was Born” exhibition at the Várkert Bazár await you on Saturday afternoon with free admission. Let us celebrate this day together.”
According to a government decision, six ministers were responsible for the high-level event. A separate operational team was responsible for the organization and safe conduct of the events.
With Katalin Novák taking office on Tuesday, the office’s website, keh.hu (Office of the President), has already been redesigned and is running under the name sandorpalota.hu. The renewed website states, among other things, that Katalin Novák is the youngest president of Hungary, born on September 6, 1977, in Szeged. Her parents are doctors, just like her brother.
She and her husband István Veres have three children, Ádám, Tamás, and Kata. According to her CV, she speaks English, French, and German excellently, and Spanish at an intermediate level. She is a Reformed Christian.
She is also an avid runner and has even run a marathon. She is a good skier, likes to bake, attend the theater, go to the movies, and enjoys board games. A few years ago, her adopted dog, Pogo, became a family companion.
Featured image via Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI