The President of Hungary, Katalin Novák visited Benedictine College on Monday as part of a tour of Catholic colleges in The United States.
This was the first visit to Benedictine from an active head of state. Novák spoke about the political issues she believes are facing not only Hungary today, but the world at large from a Catholic perspective, particularly abortion, financial relief for families, housing and LGBTQ+ issues.
Dean Kimberly Shankman was among the welcoming party of faculty members Monday morning.
“We’re known for being a school that takes its mission seriously, and so people who are interested in that mission like she was, would find it [Benedictine College] a significant place to visit,” Shankman said
The three points that Novák emphasized most were the protection of human life, support for families, and the importance of freedom, believing these three things to be the core of a healthy society. She cited Hungary’s constitution as a statement on the nation’s Christian beliefs, saying that as a nation they are proud of their roots as a Christian state.
Christianity is the foundation of many of President Novák’s policy positions that she has fought for in her term. Protection of the unborn through family support is a subject that President Novák is very passionate about. Unlike the United States, the number of abortions in Hungary has halved despite abortion technically remaining legal. Novák attributed this to the fact that Hungary has relieved some of the financial burdens that lead to abortion, investing 6.2% of Hungary’s GDP into families, such as student loan relief, housing support and cash benefits for parents.
Family is a subject that is near and dear to President Novák’s heart. She proudly championed the fact that she was a mother to three children, one of which was able to join her on her trip to America.
“You can always be replaced in your workplace, but nobody can replace you in your family,” Novák said.
There was much excitement on campus before her arrival, students gathering around the fountain in the quad in hopes of seeing this historic moment for the college. President Novak was welcomed on campus to fanfare from the band and cheer team and greeted by President Minnis, the football team, several student organizations and faculty members. She was gifted with a #63 Ravens football jersey from Bence Duka, a Benedictine football player from Hungary.
Garrett Nobis, a senior, was among the crowd awaiting Novák’s arrival.
“It’s a really big experience, I’m really excited to see her,” Nobis said.
President Novak called the visit to Benedictine College the highlight of her visit to America, trumping both a visit with President Joe Biden and even a visit with Mel Gibson.
You can watch the livestream of the event on Benedictine’s YouTube channel.