Author: Ádám Kolozsi
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Refugees at Pannonhalma Abbey
Families somehow getting to Pannonhalma Abbey were accommodated there for the night
Two Syrian families arrived during the night to the Benedictine Abbey close to Győr. They travelled on towards Austria in the day, but they will be followed by new ones.
Despite Cardinal Peter Erdő saying two days ago that the Church is not receiving any refugees, as it would be “human-trafficking,” Pannonhalma decided to act instead of talking. We were told that Abbot Asztrik Varszegi declared that anyone arriving to them should be received and the door should be opened to them. “We cannot leave anyone outside; that would be contrary to Evangelical teachings,” quoted sources close to the Abbot.
The families must have been picked up from the nearby motorway by some volunteers and taken to the Abbey. They were given mattresses in the gymnasium. Five of the guests’ children were very small. With them, the abbey received 2 boys without their families too, both approximately 12 years old. They set off from Syria alone. They managed to call home from the Abbey and spoke with their parents.
On Friday, prior to the government’s decision to take refugees to Hegyeshalom by buses (the border station on Hungarian-Austrian border – trans.) the abbey decided that somehow they will help refugees who would be passing near to them. Students of the Benedictine high school were planning to walk with the refugees along the motorway as pilgrims.
Events later unfolding then altered the plan of the pilgrimage, but news of the Abbey’s support spread and several volunteers reported to them since. They would bring new people to the Abbey, then Austrian helpers will transfer the families from here to a Catholic Parish in Vienna. This is where the first refugee families were most probably taken, too.
The Abbey of Pannohalma will continue to receive those arriving to them. (A historic parallel: in the Second World War Vilmos Apor, then Abbot hid Jews in their cellars.) However, they do not have the capacity to harbor so many people, so they are hoping that the crisis will be soon resolved by those whose job it is to resolve it.