By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Hungary said Sunday it would not support European Union plans to freeze the assets of Patriarch Kiril, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The EU’s executive European Commission views Kirill as a vital supporter of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a close ally of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. It wants to freeze the patriarch’s assets, estimated to be more than $4 billion, and impose a travel ban.
However, “The Russian Orthodox Church has 160 million believers and 40,000 priests worldwide,” said Azbej Tristan, Hungary’s state secretary for supporting persecuted Christians.
He stressed that it would be an “insane” idea to prohibit even the patriarch from entering the territory of the European Union as it would isolate the faithful from their religious leader. “This idea is harmful and does not lead to reconciliation,” Tristan added.
Earlier, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called the EU plans to impose sanctions on the head of the Russian Orthodox Church “an attack on religious freedom.”
Patriarch Kirill, one of Vladimir Putin’s most fervent supporters, was put on a draft European Commission blacklist last week after controversial sermons.
In a sermon delivered last week, Kirill claimed that “Russia has never attacked anyone” and “we don’t want to go to war.”
He added: “It is amazing that a great and mighty country has never attacked anyone – it has only defended its borders,” he said.
In a sermon in March, Kirill noted that “for eight years, there have been attempts to destroy what exists in [Ukraine’s eastern region of] Donbas,” where pro-Russian separatists claim territories.
He said those controlling areas in the area reject values offered by the Western powers “such as a gay parade.” He added that “the fight is about where mankind will be on the right or the left side of God the Saviour.”
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told EU legislators that she had heard enough to target people who act as the Kremlin’s mouthpieces.
Earlier, Pope Francis canceled a planned meeting with Patriarch Kirill while a Russian Orthodox church in Amsterdam split with the Moscow patriarchate in March.
Francis said he had told the patriarch that “we are not state clerics” and warned him against becoming “[President] Putin’s altar boy.”
He also noted that Kirill spent their call reading odd “justifications for the war.”
Besides targeting Kirill, the EU’s executive also wants an oil embargo.
But Hungary opposes this idea saying it heavily relies on Russian energy supplies. “It is unacceptable that they [the EU] ignore us and make proposals that do not consider Hungarian interests,” Orbán told Hungarian radio.
“Russian or other oil can only arrive through a pipeline that runs from Russia to Hungary. We cannot accept a package that ignores this reality,” the prime minister explained.
“The proposal in its current form is like a nuclear bomb on the Hungarian economy,” he warned.
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