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Refugee Crisis: Pannonhalma Archabbey Opens Gates To Refugees In Exemplary Display Of Christian Humanity

Ferenc Sullivan 2015.09.07.

One of Hungary’s oldest landmarks, the Benedictine Archabbey in Pannonhalma south of the western city of Győr, defying Catholic Cardinal Erdő Péter’s recent statement claiming that the Church is unable to taken in asylum-seekers because doing so would amount to human trafficking.

According to a source speaking for the iconic hilltop archabbey, founded in 996, Archabbot Asztrik Várszegi has ordered that anyone arriving to the Benedictine monastry and educational centre must be taken under all conditions. “We cannot leave anyone outside because doing so would contradict the Gospel”, he was reported as saying.

Over the weekend, volunteers took the families from the side of a nearby motorway to the abbey, where they were provided shelter in the gymnasium. Among them were two unaccompanied Syrian children around the age of twelve, who arrived on their own from the war-torn country and were able to contact their parents from the archabbey. Home to some 50 monks, the monastery decided to take in refugees passing nearby prior to Hungarian authorities’ transportation of migrants to the Hungarian-Austrian border on Friday.

The Pannonhalma Archabbey, which provided refuge to a large number of persecuted Jews during World War II, continues to welcome all those in need; however, in the absence of capacities, they are unable to provide accomodation to a large number of people and hope that the crisis situation will be taken under control by the competent authorities before long.

In a further display of Catholic organisations’ display of solidarity towards migrants, Szabolcs Szuromi, rector of Pázmány Péter Catholic University, has called upon the institution’s deans and student self-governments to do all they can in order to organise and support charity work to assist refugees. According to the Monday letter, which has been forwarded to the state news agency MTI, the university was approached by the Hungarian Malthese Charity Service to take part in assisting Middle Eastern refugees with services such as interpreting and “providing humane conditions to refugees arriving to Hungary”.