Europe has a suicidal tendency to ignore the problem underlying its decay: a lack of faith and families. But perhaps, in light of recent legislation in Poland and Hungary rooted in faith and family and the future, perhaps we may be seeing the sun rising in Europe’s East, even as we see it setting in its decadent West.
The natives are restless. Across Europe resistance to the imperialism of the European Union is rising. Take Poland, for instance. Since the election to power of the populist and patriotic Law and Justice (PiS) party in 2015, the Polish people have flexed their political muscles. Refusing to genuflect before the power of the Euro-Empire and its dictatorial directives, the Polish government has resolutely resisted the EU’s demands that Poland open its borders to large-scale Muslim immigration. Such resistance is a reflection of a real national revival as Poles rediscover the religious roots of their nation. Church attendance is rising, as are the numbers of baptisms, confirmations, first communions, and marriages. The number of Catholic priests has also risen to record levels.
Reflecting this religious revival, the Polish parliament voted in November 2017 to begin to phase out Sunday shopping so that Sunday could be restored as a day of rest and fellowship for families. A year earlier, Poland’s bishops, together with Poland’s President, Andrzei Duda, proclaimed Jesus Christ as King of Poland, calling upon Christ to govern the nation, its people, and its political leaders. One nation under God!
A similar revival is under way in Hungary, whose President Viktor Orbán has emerged as a David-like champion of the freedom of small nations in their struggles against the Goliath-like bullies in Brussels. Since 2010, the year in which President Orbán was elected, Hungary has seen marriage rates increase by a staggering 43 per cent and, equally remarkable, divorce rates dropping by 22.5 per cent. With marriage once more en vogue it is not surprising that the number of abortions has decreased by a third since Orbán’s election nor that the nation’s birth rate is at its highest in 20 years.
Hungary’s healthy demographic shift towards the revival of the traditional family has been helped greatly by the Hungarian government’s pro-family policies.
“After we won the election in 2010 with a two-thirds majority, we decided to build a family-friendly country and to strengthen families raising children,” said Hungary’s Minister for the Family, Katalin Novak, last month. She explained the Hungarian government’s “comprehensive family-support system,” which includes a family-friendly tax system, a housing program, and the creation of 800,000 new jobs. The latest pro-family law, which will come into effect in July, offers a 3,000 euro mortgage reduction for a second child, and a 12,000 euro reduction for a third. As of next year, mothers with four or more children will enjoy a lifetime personal tax exemption. Married couples in which the wife is under 40 will be eligible for an interest-free, general-purpose loan of 31,000 euro. Repayment can be suspended, significantly reduced, or written off entirely if the couple go on to have children. In addition, families raising at least three children will be eligible for a grant of 7,800 euro to buy a new car seating at least seven people.
Katalin Novak was one of the speakers at a major international conference in Italy, organized by the World Congress of Families, the aim of which was to “affirm, celebrate, and defend the natural family as the only fundamental and sustainable unit of society.” The conference, which was held in March, celebrated “the beauty of marriage” and addressed issues such as “children’s rights” and “growth and demographic decline.”
“In my speech, I talked about a Europe that is slowly committing suicide,” Katalin Novak said in an interview in the National Catholic Register. “If we renounce our Christian culture and at the same time stop promoting the importance of the family and children and just accept anything that might happen to our continent, we are… committing suicide.” She also explained the Hungarian government’s “strong family policy and the goal of being a family-friendly country [which] seeks to achieve a turnaround in demographic trends by supporting legislation, financial incentives, assistance, services and a family-friendly mentality.” She insisted that “traditional strong families represent an asset which we intend to defend — not only in Hungary, but internationally, as well.”
Mrs. Novak sees the resurrection of traditional families as the sane alternative to mass immigration. “In Europe there is a battle between anti-migration and pro-migration countries,” she explains. “We want to solve the demographic challenges by strengthening families, while they prefer migration over empowering young Europeans to have more children.” She says that “more and more people are deeply worried about the unchecked influx of illegal immigrants and the rise of terrorist attacks.” She sees this month’s European Parliament election as being crucial to the future of the continent. “The question is very much about whether the EU is able to renew and strengthen itself by putting families at the core, instead of surrendering.” And yet, regardless of how the election unfolds, she insists that “one thing is clear”: “We shall continue to support families in the future, and in this we hope to have more and more allies — like Poland or Italy, among others.”
When asked what she thought of those who criticized the Hungarian government and its pro-family policies, Mrs. Novak replied that “we simply want to strengthen families as much as we can, instead of prioritizing immigration.” Referring to the “demographic crisis” that Europe faces, she contrasts the pro-life and pro-family approach of the nations in Central Europe with the suicidal tendency in Western Europe to ignore the heart of the problem. “This is the difference between Central and Western Europe. Western political elites don’t want to dig deeper into the problems, and they choose the simplest path: mass immigration.”
“Hungarians are family-oriented,” she says, “and they love their families, their culture and their traditions. We’ve been given this direction by the Hungarian people. We want to strengthen families, women and young people. We want to provide security, and we want to protect our Christian culture.”
In the light of such heart-kindling wisdom from the peoples and governments of Poland and Hungary, rooted in faith and family and the future they offer, we are seeing the sun rising in Europe’s East, even as we see it setting in its decadent West.
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Editor’s Note: The featured image is “Portrait of Antoine-Georges-François de Chabaud-Latour and His Family” (1806) by Jacques-Luc Barbier-Walbonne (1769-1860).