24th May 2016

Speech of President of the Republic János Áder at the presentation of the Becket St Thomas relic from Esztergom in London

Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen,

“The spiritual rule” – according to the renowned verse drama of T.S. Eliot, this was the single weapon that Thomas Becket possessed.

The spiritual rule. As if these words, which could be interpreted in so many ways, alluded that Becket was not only defending his own truth or that of the church. He was also defending an eternal truth.

The obligation to respect the law and the freedom to oppose power.

I believe that all of us here agree that this is why his example points beyond any ecclesiastical, denominational or historic debate. No wonder so many people were in awe of him and even more people respected him.

He was friends with Lukács Bánfi, who was to become the archbishop of Esztergom, they met during their studies in Paris. The result of the friendship was that a temple was consecrated in the name of Thomas Becket in Hungary very early on. It was thanks to this friendship, that the sacred relic of Thomas Becket was brought to us and has been held in great respect ever since.

Dear Friends,

The history of Europe is not only about a series of strife, plots, insidious arguments and political games, but also a story of shared values. May I only mention one important example: the Magna Charta and the Golden Bull of the Hungarians were written only seven years apart (in 1215 and 1222).

Both were driven by the same aspirations. They set the objective of building state order on firm pillars, to provide secure legislative foundations for the country.

We, English and Hungarians believe that no nation can be strong without respecting its ancestors, honouring its laws and preserving its traditions.

There is no strong Europe without strong nations. The strength of Europe lies in nations that are proud of their traditions and values, which preserve their identities. Nations which are able to present the uniqueness of their centuries old culture and which are capable of protecting them amidst the new social, political challenges of the 21st century.

We brought here the relic of Becket St Thomas that we have been safeguarding for centuries as a symbol.

As a symbol of certainty that we believe: there exist time enduring eternal human values, which do require protection from time to time. Decency, fidelity, dignity, preservation of traditions, respect for laws and liberty.

Europe, our common home is based on such values.

Its conscience is preserved by such confessors as Thomas Becket. Preserved by figures who have defended and who continue to defend universal human values. They provide support for all of us. It would be wise of us to take heed of their instructive words.

I thank you for your honouring attention.

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