No Children, No Families, No Future

Steven Mosher
written by Chiara Mosher
May 22, 2023
Reproduced with Permission
Population Research Institute

For the first time in Ave Maria University's history, our little Southwest Florida University was visited by the head of state from a foreign country. The President of Hungary, Katalin Novak, came to share her thoughts and experiences as a Christian leader. She came because she believes that leaders are not visiting the small universities. These schools matter most, she said, and her visit brought encouragement to us future leaders, who are being formed at a school where the liberal arts and Christian culture prosper.

Leading a Christian country begins with being a faithful Christian, and President Novak diligently lives her faith. She begins each day with reading Sacred Scripture - no longer on the phone - too many distractions, she says, but in print, so she can concentrate during her time with God.

Remembering God's presence allows her to be a better leader. "If we serve our heavenly Father," she said, "then we should never fear anything or anybody."

President Novak lives her faith far beyond her personal space. She witnesses to her faith in her work both within Hungary borders and in the countries where persecuted Christians benefit from Hungary's aid programs, which are carefully crafted to avoid the blunders encountered by so many secular foreign aid programs .

Hungary's constitution reflects Christian principles because Hungarians are a proudly Christian people. "We are proud that our king Saint Stephen built the Hungarian State on solid ground and made our country a part of Christian Europe one thousand years ago, the Constitution's Preamble states. Updated in 2011, the text clearly lays out principles that respect life and family. "Every human being shall have the right to life and human dignity; the life of the foetus shall be protected from the moment of conception," states Article II. President Novak emphasized this point during her remarks. "Human life is invaluable, and it should be protected from the moment of conception," she told the cheering crowd.

Hungary's Constitution clearly defines both marriage and parents. Marriage is "the union of a man and a woman established by voluntary decision...and is the basis of the survival of the nation. Family ties shall be based on marriage and/or the relationship between parents and children." (Article L.1) While Christians see these truths as self-evident, they are not universally embraced. That was not the case with Ave Maria University students, faculty, and staff, who responded with raucous applause.

These core family principles help to explain why this strongly Christian nation has been successful in its battle against the demographic crisis that plagues the vast majority of "developed" countries. Undoubtedly, the energetic work of Katalin Novak has played a major role in the rise of the country's fertility rate.

A decade ago, when President Novak rejoined the workforce after spending six years at home with her children, Hungary's fertility had fallen to 1.21, with no sign of turning around. As Hungary's Minister Of Family Affairs and State Secretary Of Family And Youth Affairs, Novak became the architect of the most pro-family policy that any country in Europe has known in modern times. Today, 6% of Hungary's GDP is spent on family support. Some examples of these pro-family policies include:

These pro-family policies have contributed to a thriving society. In the past ten years, Hungary's marriages have doubled, abortions have fallen by a third, and the fertility rate has risen to 1.66. While still below the replacement rate of 2.1, the trend promises more Hungarians. More thriving families, and a flourishing country.

"This Christian alternative actually does work," said President Novak, pointing to these principles. "It is not just some theory that you can't put into practice... We in Hungary have the will to implement and the courage to implement."

President Novak seeks not only a growing population, but a growing population that thrives on Christian values and rediscovers the strong Christian identity that its Communist rulers tried to extinguish for 45 years. Novak was born while communism still reigned and was baptized in secret in her grandparents' house. Her family and many others risked the consequences in order to celebrate Mass in secret.

Those decades under communism had long-lasting effects from which the country is still recovering. Two generations of Hungarians had the everyday joy of living in a faithful community and the beauty of living their faith publicly stolen from them - as Novak puts it, "It's easy to destroy something but difficult to rebuild."

For her part, President Novak focuses on future generations, on the children. More and more children attend Church schools, which are free for families, financed by the Hungarian government. Novak hopes that, as more families choose these schools and children learn their faith, they in turn will teach their parents, in a subtle, everyday way, about the beauty of the Faith.

Hungary is a country on the mend, an anomaly in today's world. But it sets the example for what other countries need: God and strong families. It is only through Him that we can accomplish anything at all, and this faith we have been given should be passed down through the generations to proliferate.