Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech at the funeral of Professor István Tőkés

2 February 2016

21 January 2016, Kolozsvár (Cluj)

Family of Professor Tőkés, Fellow Mourners,

We have come here to bid our final farewell to a great son of Transylvania, a patriarch who lived to a great age, Professor István Tőkés, pastor and learned preacher. We have come here from many different parts of the world, from the larger or smaller spheres of Hungarian life, in which people still know that if a great soul departs our world, we are obliged to gather together. The coffin around which so many of us now stand does not symbolise hopelessness, but power: the power of faith and the power of life which we can share here with each other.

Scripture tells us that patriarchs died having lived full lives. We could say that István Tőkés lived a full life,  but we must admit that if he could speak to us now, he would deny it. How could someone be said to have had a full life if they had been compelled to take into the 21st century the Hungarian people’s burdens inherited from the 20th century? How could anyone who was never able and never willing to detach his individual and family happiness from the welfare of his church and his people have thus lived a full life? István Tőkés took it upon himself – as Paul the Apostle writes – to carry in his body the misery and hope of his people, their decline and desire to thrive, their humiliations and struggles, defeats and victories. He fought until his last breath. He fought with the weapons of the spirit and the soul. He fought for us and for justice. He fought because he knew and believed that justice sets you free. This noble fight was the measure of his life, this is what made him a free man, even in times of cheated hope: in war, dictatorship, democracy. His freedom arose from within, and within himself he preserved and cultivated the Hungarian life which faith and culture created in this region. He never doubted that in the 21st century only this faith and this culture can once again fill the villages and towns of Transylvania with Hungarian words and life.

In István Tőkés the last representative of a great generation – whose lives began when historical Hungary came to an end – has left us. They were the ones whose fate was to preserve a sense of unity and the integrity of a nation that was shattered in the Great War and by the subsequent decisions of the Great Powers. It was his generation that was tasked with handing down the gospel of the Hungarian nation’s survival at home, in school, in church and in public life. Through their lives they were to set an example to those who knew – or who knew but did not really know – the meaning of the history and culture of Transylvania, and Hungarian life in Transylvania. The life of István Tőkés was rooted in the Hungarian world, while he aspired to intellectual heights where responsibility for the people and the church became intertwined with the concern he felt for the future of Europe and the whole world. This is the privilege of a chosen few: to live with a mission of commitment to a place which does not insulate one from a feeling of responsibility for the entire world. It was here, in this place, that he read, believed and preached the all-encompassing message of the Bible, the great book of humanity. This is how for him Kolozsvár could be the centre of the universe, and this is how this pulpit could become a reference point in our lives. This is how he could see his own troubles and dreams in every creature’s suffering and hope, and this is how he could see the whole of humanity’s most important issues in our fate as Hungarians. His favourite psalm taught him that our reward is the fruit of a mother’s womb. Therefore he and his faithful partner in life raised strong sons and daughters to carry on the service they rendered.

I say farewell to him now on behalf of all of us who owe him gratitude for his life, his faith, his loyalty, his courage, his teaching and his academic work; on behalf of all of us whose responsibility it is to ensure that what he gave us Hungarians should never be forgotten and should not disappear without consequence. Let his entire life and every one of his words find a place in the spiritual and cultural treasury of the Hungarian people in the 21st century. Let his entire life serve as a lesson to all of those whose mission in public life is to protect that which can be protected: as he himself put it in one of his last letters, “to protect that which can be protected, and to build that which can be built”. In Kolozsvár, Vásárhely, Budapest, Szabadka, Kassa, Beregszász. Because we can and must build from the substance and the spirit left to us by the Hungarians laid to rest in Házsongárd Cemetery.

Fellow Mourners,

István Tőkés was a candle radiating a divine light which could only be extinguished by time or by force. Now that here on Earth that candle has gone out, the mission it embodied continues, lit by thousands of candles in the lives of all those upon whom it shone. Blessed be his memory.

Soli Deo gloria!

Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister

« vissza

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  • Viktor Orbán, 52
  • Lawyer, graduated at Eötvös Loránd University and studied at Pembroke College, Oxford
  • Married to Anikó Lévai
  • They have five children: Ráhel, Gáspár, Sára, Róza, Flóra
  • Chairman of FIDESZ, vice-chairman of the European People's Party


© Minden jog fenntartva, 2010