Although Pope Francis’ visit in April last year was the reason for several pardons in Hungary – including one in a pedophilia case that confronted head of state Katalin Novák – the Vatican was not involved in the decisions. State Secretary Zoltán Kovács, responsible for international communications, emphasized this on Monday.
The Hungarian head of state decided to pardon without communicating with the Holy See or the Pope. Kovács explained it literally: “The Presidents of the Hungarian Republic exercise their right to pardon from time to time, often on special occasions or holidays. Pope Francis’ visit in April 2023 was one such occasion.”
When asked if there had been an exchange with the Vatican about the names of the people to be pardoned, the minister explained that “in pardon cases, the heads of state decide independently without communicating with outsiders such as the Holy See or the Pope. ”
In April 2023, on the occasion of Pope Francis’ visit to Hungary, Novák pardoned not only a convicted right-wing extremist, but also the former deputy director of an orphanage. The man was convicted in Hungary for being involved in covering up cases of abuse at home.
The house director was sentenced to eight years in prison for sexual abuse of minors, his deputy to three years and four months for a cover-up. As a result of the pardon, this sentence was shortened by nine months.
Pressure too much: president resigns
News of the deputy’s request for clemency sparked a wave of outrage in the Hungarian media and protests on the streets. Last Saturday, Novák announced her resignation as president. Former Minister of Justice Judit Varga, who had co-signed the pardon as a minister at the time, also had to withdraw from politics because of the affair. There was also excitement after the release of György Budaházy, who had been convicted of terrorism.
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