MODERN CATHOLIC HISTORY OF HUNGARY
A Hungarian Benedictine monk has written to contradict certain statements made in the CATHOLIC HERALD (May 5) concerning the position of Catholics in Hungary.
He is Dom Alois 'Over; monk of Pannonhalma, Hungary.
The article in question pointed out that the Catholics in Hungary were strong in numbers, but played small part in public affairs. Outside Hungary people were accustomed to judge the position of Catholics there from the fact that the ruler of what is largely a Catholic country is a Protestant; that within the last few decades three of its Prime Ministers have belonged to the same religion; and further, that the Parliamentary representation of the Catholic Party with its 20-30 seats depicted a Catholicism which was either totally unorganised or at least poorly directed.
Dom Alois, who is nosy at Worth Priory, agrees with these statements but declares that they reveal only one side of the question. He gives below further facts which he believes are vital for the complete understanding of the position.
By Dom Alois 'Cover, O.S.B.
Anti-religious influence of nineteenth-century Liberalism has made itself felt in Hungary. The greatest achievement. of this political outlook Was the introduction of compulsory civil marriage. In other spheres as well the supporters of this policy endeavoured to win influence and to undermine the strong Catholic tradition of the country which was handed down by St. Stephen, the first King of Hungary. The years immediately preceding the Great War, and still more the difficult years of the War itself, favoured the agitation conducted by those Masonic elements, whose leaders were chiefly Jews.
The nation, weakened by the long war, experienced this party's revolution, and with that began the four months' reign of terror by Communism which belongs to the blackest pages of Ilimgarian history.
Religious instruction was forbidden; the crucifixes were taken away from schools and public buildings ; many Catholics, priests and layfolk, were hanged. And it must be expressly noted that the leaders of this revolution were Jews-B. Kim, 0. Jaszi, etc. and the Social Democrats.
The anti-Semitism of the Hungarian people dates from this period. Admiral Horthy, the great hero of the World War, was the man who put an end to this reign of .terror. It was now a matter of course that
the people wanted to see at their head the one who had restored their confidence. Moreover, Catholic Ireland has also a Protestant President. Mdrne. Horthy is a Catholic who leads an exemplary life and was patroness of the
Eucharistic Congress which was held in Budapest last year. The period after the Great War and Communism found a poverty-stricken country robbed, so to speak, of every possibility of existence. The first task was to be able to begin a new life at all. It is only natural that while the State was busy with its work of reconstruction, Social Democracy and the Freemasons were not idle and their teaching and institutes were able to continue their existence.
Catholic Press But Catholicism also began its work; it created a Catholic Press for daily papers and periodicals. The Uj Nemzedels, published for the middle classes, has to-day a circulation of 250,000 copies. Nor has there been a lack of Catholic statesmen. After the collapse of Communism, the Catholics, K. Huszar, the present President of Catholic Action, then Count Teleky, the present Prime Minister, formed the first governments. Count Teleky, who paid a visit to Berlin last week, did not neglect to attend Mass on Sunday. Catholicism was also represented in the Governments of Bethlene, Giimbiis and Darinyis by the priests J. Vass, A. Ernszt, and other Catholics.
As for Catholic representation in Parliament, we must remember that there were and still are many good Catholics, including several priesta, in the Government. party.
We may not draw conclusions with regard to the strength or weakness of Catholicism in Hungary from the small membership of the Catholic Party. For this Party was called into being because of the Liberal era of the last century, therefore against the Government of that time; but when this leading spirit in the Government had to cease with the downfall of Communism, the Party became a supporter of the Government with whom it shares a common fundamental outlook. Ever since that time the aim of every Hungarian Government and that of the Catholic Party has been to fight the enemies of the State and religion.
That no difficulty exists between Church and State in Hungary is shown by the fact that even after the War and without a Concordat the collective rights of the Church with regard to schools, education, the Press, and public life are assured there. Hardly any other postwar State in Europe can say that of itself. Indeed, it must be granted that the workers remained for a long time in the hands of Social Democracy, but even in this respect much has happened during the last four years. The industrial and agricultural workers are being enrolled in the Kalot and Emszo Unions. The guiding principles of these unions are based on the Encyclicals Berton Noyarum and Quadragesimo Anno, and much good has been achieved in a peaceful way for the benefit of the workers.
The success of this Catholic Workers' Movement is revealed not only by better wages-the Emszo has in two years been able to secure higher wages in 160 cases for the industrial workers-but much more by the fact that the workers have dropped their representatives at the municipal councils. We entertain the highest hopes also in connection with the Parliamentary elections due to take place at the end of this month. The old Social Democracy will have scarcely more than two or three seats in the new Parliament.
Until recently Catholicism in Hungary was in many ways little known or else misunderstood abroad. The causes of this are due partly to the isolated language of the nation, partly to the hostile attitude of the neighbouring countries which still prevails, and partly because Hungarian Catholicism has made little use of propaganda. So it came about that other countries in which a lively Catholicism only exists on paper, or in which a few leaders without any real followers occasionally give addresses about the Catholic religion, were reckoned by everyone as Catholic.
Last year, however, Hungary proved by the 34th Eucharistic Congress that her Catholicism belongs to the best. Whoever experienced those days in Budapest went away with the conviction that the Catholic religion introduced by St. Stephen is strong once more after a short period of stagnation and has something to give Catholicism as a whole. We may mention only the Men's Day, when 160,000 men took part in the nocturnal adoration and received Holy Communion; the Youth's Day, or that of the Army, when Generals were seen at the Communion rails.
This manifestation was not merely superficial, it sprang from the inner conviction of the Catholic population which had prepared itself for these days of grace all over the country by spiritual exercises and tridutime. No less an authority than the present Holy Father, who laboured as Papal Legate in Budapest, admired the Hungarian Catholic life and again and again in his addresses speaks of it with great appreciation.
Jew Laws : Not German Pressure
With regard to the so-called anti-Jew Laws, we must assert that it was received by the whole Catholic Community with great joy and satisfaction To ascribe its being introduced to German pressure is a very hasty judgment.
As I pointed out above, the roots of anti-Semitism lie In Communism. Since
that time the Catholic Press, Uj Nemzedek, Nemzeti Ufsag, Magyar guitar° tinder the direction of the famous Jesuit Father Bangha, has never ceased to bring about this solution.
The situation in National Socialist Germany has made this problem more acute and has hastened the solution.
lt must be strongly emphasised that this law is not the outcome of hatred for the Jews, but it is intended to serve the interests of our own nation. It was intolerable that the six per cent. Jewish element should control the whole of the cinemas and theatres, should be able to put the greatest part of the Press at its service, should exercise a monopoly over banking business and trade.
Had that state of affairs continued the German Jews would have flocked to Hungary through the influence of the Hungarian Jews. We must emphasise that the Jews in Hungary belong to the upper and most influential class, chiefly the big capitalists. We could give examplea in this connection.
With regard to Cardinal Ser6di's veto of the anti-Jew Law, as reported in the CATHOLIC HER ALD, we should like to remark that he has accepted it in the name of Hungarian Catholicism and the Hungarian Episcopate, stressing in his speech before Parliament that the law did not endanger the teaching of the Catholic religion.
As a general law it has the disadvantage perhaps of punishing the innocent, but with the nation's interests at stake the introduction of the law is a necessity.
Bishop Glattfelden in a leading article In the Nemzeti Ujsag, also regards the law as acceptable and observes that Parliament has respected the Catholic standpoint. The number of Catholics stated in the CATTIOLIC HERALD'S article to be affected by the law seems to me to be exaggerated.
Most of the Catholics who are so affected live either in Jewish-Catholic mixed marriage or are the children of such. Many such marriages have been contracted without ecclesiastical dispensation. It shows a curious mentality, when in need, to expect help from the same Church whose regulations the parties ignored when contracting marriage. Nor will the lot of the Jews after the law be as bad as those outside Hungary often think. The Jews are allowed even in future to retain their posts in proportion to their fixed percentage, which in trade and industry is as much as 15 per cent. We await a new classifying of the population as the Jew Law is carried out in Hungary; the displacement of Jews in the higher and more important pouts which they have often used in the course of history to the detriment of the Hungarian people; however, they will still be free to be employed as industrial and agricultural workers; on the other hand, and this is the direct object of this law, the reinheritance of the leadership by that Christian-Catholic class which is called in the first place to rule St. Stephen's country and nation.