Dissolution follow s Hungary's pact
COMMUNIST ruthlessness reached a new low level when, last week-end, immediately following the signing of the Church-State agreement, the Hungarian Government ordered the dissolution of all but four of the country's 67 religious orders.
The Bishops had reluctantly and under pressure signed, it had been said, to save the orders against whom a bitter persecution was already being built up.
Then, like Li hammer blow shattering all illusions, came the news in the Official Gazette that 10,000 monks and nuns are to be turned adrift and made to return to a lay fife.
Confirmation of this came in a pastoral letter read in Budapest's churches on Sunday. Though the Bishops are "deeply afflicted" by the order, it is reported to have said, Hungarian Catholics would ask God's blessing upon the agreement on which the Government had insisted.
"The Church hopes that the agreement will serve the welfare and prosperity of Hungary," said the letter.
No text of the pastoral letter has yet been received from Catholic sources but those available say that it declared that the Church opened negotiations in the hope that the pressure on the orders would be relieved. But the Government insisted on broadening the discussions to include all points of disagreement.
In spite of the Hierarchy's belief that no major matters could be settled without the consent of the Holy See, the negotiations were entered into in the hope that the dissolution of the orders could be avoided, it said.
The letter asked the faithful to provide financial assistance to the members of the orders affected in their
efforts to find their way back to a lay life.
The orders which are not to be entirely dissolved (in order to staff the eight schools which are to be handed back under the agreement) are Benedictines, Franciscans, Marists and some unnamed teaching sisters.
Using the Hungarian agreement as a lever against Czech Catholics, Joseph Plojhar, Czech Minister of Health, and himself an excommunicated priest, has now declared that the Communist regime there will do everything possible to conclude what he called an "honest and friendly" ChurchState agreement.
"The representatives of the Church must understand our wishes and be real shepherds," he said.
He recalled that Poland and Hungary had now reached agreements and added significantly : "The example of Hungary must not be forgotten."