Novak issued the pardon along with two dozen others on the occasion of Pope Francis’ visit in April 2023.
Hungary’s conservative president has resigned amid public outrage over his pardon of a convicted accomplice in a child abuse case, a decision that sparked an unprecedented former political scandal for the nationalist government.
Katalin Novak, 46, announced in a televised message on Saturday that she will step down as president, a position she has held since 2022.
The revelation of a presidential pardon granted in April 2023 to a man convicted of harboring a series of sexual abuses of minors in a state home for orphans has sparked widespread outrage.
“I issued an apology that caused confusion and concern for many people,” Novak said Saturday. “I was wrong.”.
The man was sentenced to more than three years in prison in 2018 for helping to cover up the sexual abuse of the institution’s director, who was sentenced to eight years for abusing at least 10 children between 2004 and 2016.
Novak, who issued the apology along with two dozen others on the occasion of Pope Francis’ visit in April 2023, initially denied wrongdoing and rejected calls for a formal explanation.
All the opposition parties have called for Novak’s resignation, and the largest has started a process for violating the ethics of the parliament.
On Thursday, a lawmaker of the Democratic Coalition sent a letter to the representatives of the Catholic Church in Hungary for transmission to Pope Francis, according to which Novak “served sin” by giving the pardon on the occasion of papal visit
Legislator Olga Kálmán said the pardon cleared the record of the former deputy director of the asylum, allowing him to return to work with children.
“This pardon means that, from now on, he no longer has a criminal record nor is he prohibited from practicing his vocation. After the pardon, he can return to work in a home for orphans,” Kálmán told the AP.