Die Apostolische Nachfolge

von Martin Wolters

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The Church under Dictatorship in Hungary

 

Since end of 1944 in Hungary the influence of the communist party within the national front got deeper and, as a result, the People's Republic was established. MDP secretary general Rakósi pursued a strictly Stalinistic policy, which found an end only in1956. After the same year's Hungarian uproars the situation got better, but nevertheless also during "goulash communism" era the work of the church was hindered steadily. The long time asylum of Cardinal Primate Mindszenty in the U. S. embassy of Budapest may serve as an example. His Auxiliary Bishop Zoltán Lajos Meszlényi, who had been imprisoned in 1950, was murdered on March 4, 1951, at Kistárcsa; on July 3, 2009, Benedict XVI confirmed his martyrdom, and his beatification took place on October 31, 2009. In February, 1989, Hungary re-established a system of various political parties.

First Victim of Communism: Baronet Vilmos Apor, Bishop of Györ, was murdered on April 2, 1945, by Soviet soldiers.

The Primate: József Cardinal Mindszenty

During communist rule numerous dioceses could not be filled for a while, and there were several vacant sees:

 

Csanád: 1964 - 1975

Eger: 1956 - 1969, 1972 - 1974

Esztergom: 1974 - 1976

Györ: 1966 - 1976

Hajdúdorog for the Byzantine Rite: 1972 - 1975

Kalocsa: 1961 - 1964

Pannonhalma (Archabbey): 1969 - 1973

Pécs: 1961 - 1969

Székesféhérvár: 1968 - 1974

Szombathely: 1972 - 1975

Vác: 1967 - 1969

Veszprém: 1965 - 1975.

In 1948, Cardinal Mindszenty was imprisoned and, in 1951, archbishop Grősz of Kalocsa. Since that year also bishop Shvoy of Székesfehérvár was impedet in his duties, 1953 bishop Pétery of Vác and 1957 bishop Badalik of Veszprém.

Archbishop József Ijjas (Kalocsa), Cardinal László Lékai (Esztergom) and Cardinal László Paskai (Kalocsa/Esztergom), Presidents of Hungarian Bishops' Conference 1969 - 1976, 1976 - 1986 resp. 1986 - 1990

Especially in the years 1964, 1969, 1972, 1974 and 1982 the Holy See after negotiations with the regime was able to appoint some new bishops or apostolic administrators with the rank of a titular bishop, while some of these newly appointed prelates stood close to the government or - like archbishop Brezanócsy of Eger - were informal intelligence collaborators. That, however, free appointments were not possible, may be illustrated by the fate of bishops József Winkler and Gellért Belon, both appointed in 1959, but consecrated only in 1964 respective in 1982.

In difference to several other countries behind the iron curtain, clandestine consecrations - at least after the fall of stalinism - were not necessary for the church's survival; therefore their number is small indeed:

 

05.11.60: László Rózsavölgyi, Titular Bishop of Listra; by Mihály Endrey, Special Delegate of Esztergom Archdiocese

ca. 1970: probably Gyula Parádi, by Felix Maria Davídek (see Czechoslovakia), probably in Kraków

ca. 1970: probably József Rédei, by Gyula Parádi.

Bishop?: Gyula Parádi

 

Legitimacy and consecration of Mgr Rózsavölgyi - one year after the state refused the consecration of Mgr Winkler and Mgr Belon - are of no question; both others are not recognized. Mgr. Rózsavölgyi was appointed by St. John XXIII under the condition not to use his episcopal facilities until the case of the erection of a government guided Hungarion national church. However, only a few weeks later he was imprisoned. The Holy See gave up its plan to elect nine up to twelve already chosen priests as apostolic administrators and to consecrate them as bishops. After the fall down Cardinal Paskai denied their installation as auxiliary bishops of Esztergom. Why they were consecrated is still an open mystery, especially considering the number of  various official bishops of those time. Maybe this was a reaction of Mgr. Davídek to the 1969 elevation of some bishops close to the government; but perhaps they also were designated to work abroad.

 

Appointed 1959, consecrated 1982: Auxiliary Bishop Gellért Belon of Pécs

 

 

The photos of this page were taken by the archives of Hofrat Dr. Manfred Kierein, Vienna,  and of the author. The Gyula Parádi portrait was taken from his obituary.

 

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