Hungary, The Catholic Church in
HUNGARY, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN
The Republic of Hungary is bordered on the north by Slovakia, on the northeast by Ukraine, on the east by Romania, on the south by Yugoslavia and Slovenia, on the west by Austria and on the northwest by Slovakia. Primarily consisting of flat or rolling plains rising to low mountains in the northwest, Hungary has a temperate climate, with humid winters. Natural resources in the region include bauxite, coal and natural gas; its fertile land produces such crops as wheat, corn, sunflower seeds, sugar beets and potatoes. Budapest, its capital city, is on the Danube River, which bisects Hungary from north to south.
Hungary became an independent kingdom in 1000. From 1526 to 1686 much of the country was under Turkish control. After that Hungary was ruled by the haps burg house until 1918, when it became independent of Austria but lost most of its territory and population. In 1946 Hungary was proclaimed a republic. A Communistic People's Republic was proclaimed in 1949, and remained under Soviet control until 1991 despite an effort to break the Warsaw Pact in 1956. A member of NATO since 1999, Hungary was slated for inclusion in the European Union by 2000.
The following essay is in two parts. Part one discusses the history of the church through 1950; Part two discusses the Church under communism and into the 21st century.
As part of the Roman Empire, the region comprised portions of the provinces of Pannonia and Dacia. Accounts of martyrdoms and remains of tombs, funeral chapels and churches attest to a thriving Christian community, with some groups surviving the barbarian migrations that accompanied the fall of the Empire. Sizable Christian communities may have lasted into the avar rule from 500–700, while Christian traditions may also have been inherited by the slavs and passed to the Hungarians (Magyars), who eventually subjugated and assimilated the people of the region.
Conversion of Magyars. Even before invading Hungary the Hungarians had encountered Christianity. The Finno-Ugric Hungarian nomads of Eurasia's Great Steppes, composed of western and eastern Turki tribes, became a nation in the fifth century. They adopted the religion of the shamans, which was influenced by the religions of the East, and eventually came into contact with the byzantine church and byzantine civilization. Many of their slaves were Christians. Christian missionaries visited them on several occasions. As allies of Byzantium the Hungarians entered the northwestern shores of the Black Sea. After being defeated by the Bulgarians, they moved into the Danube Basin and gradually spread throughout the Great Plain subjugating Slavonic, Bulgarian and Avar minority groups. For the next six decades their destructive raids into Western Europe reminded medieval chroniclers of the Huns. The tendency by tribal chiefs of making raids on their own authority tended to weaken the central power established by Árpád (d. 907), Hungary's national hero, who had led the Magyars into the Danube area c. 875. In 955 Emperor otto i annihilated the Magyars on the Lechfeld, near Augsburg.
Géza became the national leader (972–997), restored the central power, and recognized that some accommodation to Western Christianity was essential for the survival of his people, as it had been for the neighboring nomadic or seminomadic tribes. Géza, whose wife was the daughter of a tribal chief in Transylvania who had been converted to Byzantine Christianity, was baptized by St. adalbert of prague (986). Thereafter he welcomed German missionaries from Passau and Regensburg. Adalbert, a supporter of the cluniac reform, strengthened the faith of Géza's son Stephen (Istvan), who had been baptized as a child by Bishop pilgrim of passau, and who was married to Blessed gisela. As ruler (997–1038), St. stephen i promoted the evangelization of Hungary by inviting German and Italian missionaries and the scholar St. gerard of csanÁd. With the approval of Emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II crowned Stephen as first king of Hungary (1000). Stephen organized the Church in Hungary by creating the archdioceses of Esztergom and Kalocsa, eight dioceses and five Benedictine abbeys (notably pannonhalma). From his headquarters in Esztergom, the capital, Stephen organized the country politically as well. He defeated pagan tribes, replaced
the tribal divisions by territorial counties and resisted the ecclesiastical influence of Byzantium, which remained strong. Stephen's religious accomplishments, which were not based on mere power politics, survived a pagan reaction after his death that was partly motivated by hostility to Western influences. Paganism gradually disappeared, only to reappear later with the arrival of the nomadic Cumans, belonging to the Turki peoples. Some of these pagan traditions were assimilated into Christian customs and folklore. In 1996 the relics of Stephen and Gisela were reunited in Veszprem to mark the 1,000th anniversary of their wedding, as well as the founding of the local diocese.
Árpáds. The Church and the Árpád dynasty were sources of strength to one another. The 40 or so Árpáds who became saints or blesseds indicate the genuine spirituality that characterized this dynasty, which played an important role in imbuing Hungary with the Christian spirit. At the same time the kings enjoyed the privileges of creating dioceses, naming bishops and supervising Church property. The archbishops of Esztergom, who became primates of Hungary, crowned the kings and exercised great authority. Together with the other bishops and the abbots, they were a potent political force. Until the battle of Mohács in 1526, prelates, especially along the frontiers, commanded the military forces against sporadic pagan invasions. Hierarchical influence served to curb abuses of royal power and anarchical tendencies of the nobles while fostering ties with Rome.
Hungary became a bulwark of Western Christianity against barbarian incursions from the east. As king (1077–95), St. ladislaus i (László) promoted the canonization of Stephen I and emeric (1083), defended Hungary's Christian culture against the pagan Cumans, conquered Croatia, and accepted the gregorian reform. King Kálmán I (Coloman, 1095–1114), who conquered Dalmatia, completed the Christianization of Hungary, which served as an avenue for the armies of the crusades on their route to the Holy Land. Kálmán's successors had to protect Hungarian independence against Byzantium. Géza II (1141–62) settled Catholic Germans (Saxons) in the southern passes of Transylvania. Under Béla III (1173–96) Cistercians spread rapidly in Hungary. King Andrew II (1205–35), father of St. elizabeth of hungary, headed an unsuccessful Crusade to Palestine (1217) and was constrained to sign the Golden Bull (1222), which became a charter of feudal privileges for the nobles. Devastating invasions by the mongols from 1241–42 destroyed six dioceses and retarded Hungary's development but did not undermine the country's Christian foundation. Béla IV (1235–70) had three daughters renowned for sanctity: St. margaret of hungary, Blessed jolenta and Blessed Kinga. Following the Mongol raids Catholics emigrated from Germany and Bohemia, Orthodox from Romania and Ruthenia, and pagan Cumans from outside the frontiers. Cuman influence proved particularly harmful to the Church, especially under the half-Cuman King Ladislaus IV (1272–90), who in 1279 forcibly dissolved a synod in Buda presided over by a papal legate. With Andrew III (1290–1301) the Árpád dynasty became extinct.
Work of Religious Orders. Religious orders played an important role in Hungary's religious and cultural development. Following the Benedictines came the pre monstratensians (1130), the cistercians from France (1142) and canons regular of st. augustine (1198). The hermits of st. paul, founded in Hungary in 1250, spread to Italy, Germany, Austria, Poland, Lithuania and Sweden. The knights of malta, carthusians, car melites, franciscans, dominicans, and teutonic knights also established houses in the country. Religious houses and churches became the centers around which new towns developed. Priests and religious, who served to maintain concord between the Hungarians and other ethnic groups in towns and villages, were responsible for erecting schools, hospitals, leprosaria and a variety of charitable institutions. Because Hungary possessed few institutions of higher learning until the 17th century, ecclesiastics and nobles attended the universities of Paris, Bologna and Padua. Later they studied at Vienna, Cracow and Charles University in Prague. The various religious orders introduced German, Italian and French influences. Priests who had been educated in Western European universities provided the officials in the royal chancery.
Franciscans and Dominicans took a leading role in fostering an intensive spiritual life among the laity. They were the first to distribute religious literature to lay persons and to groups of women dwelling in communities,
such as the beguines. The Franciscans, who in 1232 established a separate Hungarian province with its center in Eger, had more than 50 houses by 1300. After the Mongol devastations the Franciscans were utilized by the kings to restore religious life. During the 14th century they evangelized the Mongols and Tatars in Russia, and also took the lead in opposing the heresy of the bo gomils, which infiltrated Hungary from the Balkans. Later the heretical influences of the waldenses and hussites penetrated Hungary from the West and caused widespread social upheavals. Hussites, or Franciscans influenced by them, made the first translation of the Bible into Hungarian.
Growing Turkish Menace. The Neopolitan branch of the House of Anjou came into control of the Hungarian throne with Charles I (1308–42). Charles I of Anjou was aided by the papal embassy of Cardinal Gentilis in gaining the throne. The Anjou dynasty continued the close relationship with the Holy See that had characterized the rule of the Árpáds. Under Louis I, the Great (1342–82), who also governed Poland, both State and Church reached their peak. Hungary's influence extended to Moldavia, Wallachia, Bosnia and Serbia. Louis I built churches and monasteries, filled church offices with competent ecclesiastics, and strove for the reunion of the Orthodox within his kingdom. He founded the first Hungarian university at Pécs in 1367. In his last years he confronted the threat of invasion by the ottoman turks, who were followers of Islam. sigismund (1387–1437), emperor in 1433, kept Hungary on the side of Rome during the western schism; but he appropriated ecclesiastical funds for his own purposes, subjected papal documents to his royal placet (1404), and presumed to nominate bishops. After his disastrous defeat at Nicopolis in 1396 during his crusade against the Turks, Sigismund's authority in Hungary passed to the feudal nobility. From 1420 Hussite armies ravaged the country.
Ladislaus V (Ladislaus III of Poland) lost his life at Varna in 1444 doing battle against the Turks, whereupon John Hunyadi became governor of the kingdom. Hudyadi's leadership in the crusade against the Ottomans made him a national hero, supported as he was in his military
campaigns by the papal envoys Giuliano cesarini and Juan de carvajal. Hunyadi's greatest victory over the Turks came in 1456, two years after their conquest of Constantinople, at Belgrade, where St. john Capistran urged on Christian troops by his preaching. Although the battle cost Hunyadi his life, it arrested the Turkish advance for 70 years.
Matthias Corvinus, Hunyadi's son, ruled from 1458 to 1490, the sole Hungarian to be king after the disappearance of the Árpáds. He continued the war against the Turks with little help from Western Christendom except from Rome. His conquests of Vienna in 1485 and other western territories were lost to Hungary after his death. The principality of Transylvania, established with the help of Paulite diplomat György martinuzzi, had to defend itself against both Hapsburgs and Turks. In his dealings with the Church Matthias Corvinus appropriated ecclesiastical revenues to his own use and appointed foreigners to Hungarian sees. Both he and his father promoted Renaissance humanism in Hungary, especially at the court in Buda. It was there that Matthias collected his famous library, the Bibliotheca Corvina. Although he founded the University of Bratislava (1465), he later neglected it as he did the University of Pécs.
1526 to 1918
Ladislaus II (1490–1516), king of Bohemia, proved to be a weak ruler in Hungary. A group of peasants protesting the Turks and organized by Tamás Bakócz, turned against the nobles; in 1514 the crusade was ruthlessly suppressed, and participants condemned to "eternal servitude." Ladislaus's children entered into arranged marriages with members of the Hapsburg family. The codification of Hungarian customary law by Stephen Verböczi (1514) never received official approval, but it was regarded as authoritative until 1848. In 1526 Louis II (b. 1516) and most of the Hungarian bishops died in the defeat of the Hungarian army by the Turks at Mohács, whereupon central and southern Hungary were annexed to the Turkish empire for the next 150 years. In the struggle (1526–28) for the throne between Ferdinand I of Hapsburg and John Zápolya, ecclesiastical possessions were looted by both claimants. Western and northeastern Hungary were organized as a kingdom under the Hapsburg emperors and served as a bulwark for Catholicism. Transylvania, in the southeast, became a separate principality held by the Turks in vassalage but left semi-independent under Cardinal Martinuzzi.
The Protestant Reformation. It was while Hungary was weakened by Turkish conquerors from without and rent by political discord within, that the Protestant ref ormation began to influence the region. Until 1526 lutheranism
was repressed; after that it made rapid progress, particularly in Transylvania, where it was welcomed by local Germans who had maintained contacts with Germany since the 12th century. calvinism entered later and found wide acceptance, particularly among the Magyars. socinianism won followers among the Szekels. By allying itself with anti-Hapsburg nationalism, Protestantism helped its cause. At the court of Louis II, many German nobles welcomed the new doctrines, which were at first promoted as internal reforms in the Church. When the Catholic bishops decreed stern measures against the religious innovators, many returned to their faith. In Transylvania, however, Protestantism was too powerful to be overcome by forceful measures, gaining in some towns the support of the majority of the citizenry. The religiously indifferent Emperor Maximilian II (1564–76), son of Ferdinand I, facilitated further progress of Protestantism; at the end of his reign there were about 900 Lutheran congregations and as many more Calvinist
ones in the sections not subject to the Turks. About 90 percent of the population had gone over to Protestantism, mostly to Calvinism. Scarcely 300 Catholic priests and religious remained in the country.
Catholic Restoration. The counter reformation began in the second half of the 16th century and proved extremely successful. Emperor Rudolf II (1516–1608) and succeeding Hapsburg rulers gave it strong support. More important were the reforms undertaken in the Church, the improvement in the quality of the clergy by the introduction of seminary education, and closer contacts between clergy and laity, and the promotion of more fervent interior life. A key role was played by the jesuits, who were welcomed into the royal territories by Miklós olÁh (Olahus), archbishop of Esztergom, and into Transylvania by Stephen bÁthory, prince of Transylvania (1571–76) and king of Poland (1575–86). The Jesuit college in Nagyszombat (Trnava) developed into a university under the patronage of Péter pÁzmÁny (1570–1637), archbishop of Esztergom and the leading figure in the Catholic restoration. The Jesuit university eventually became the University of Budapest, while the German-Hungarian College in Rome, founded in 1578, was also very important for its work in training priests.
The majority of Hungarians in the sections ruled by the kings ultimately returned to the Church, and Lutheranism lost most of its following. However, the country remained permanently divided religiously. In Transylvania the Magyars adhered in large part to Calvinism, and became a Protestant bastion with close ties to the Netherlands and England. Transylvania granted religious liberty to all in 1557. Aiding the Protestant cause was the struggle led by Transylvanian rulers Stephen Bocskay (1557–1606), Gabor Bethlen (1580–1629) and Georg Rákóczi I (1591–1648) against the Hapsburgs, wherein national independence and defense of Protestantism went hand in hand. The Serbs and a large percentage of the country's Romanians retained their allegiance to the Orthodox
Church. Many Ukrainians (Ruthenians) did also, but a sizable minority later united with Rome after successful missionary work among them.
Little was recorded of Turkish Hungary during its 150 years of subjection to Muslim rule. Plague and starvation killed many of those who were not carried off into slavery, leaving surviving Magyars clustered in the towns for protection. Serbs and Romanians moved into the vacated countryside. While the Reformation did not concern the Turks directly, they showed less tolerance toward Catholics than toward Protestants. The Church survived mainly due to the work of the Franciscans, although the laity also did much to keep their faith alive by organizing pilgrimages to Marian shrines and by maintaining religious customs.
To defend the Hapsburg territories the government depended partly on Hungarians, and partly on foreign mercenaries, who tormented the peasants almost as much as the Turks did. The Holy League, formed in 1684 under the sponsorship of innocent xi, joined Austria, Venice, and, for a short time, Poland against the Turks. Their armies, together with those of other Western powers, succeeded in liberating most of Turkish-occupied Hungary by 1700. Buas was regained in 1686. According to the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699) the Hapsburg emperor received all of Hungary (except the Banat of Temesvar). Hapsburg rule continued until 1918. Once Hungary was liberated the former ecclesiastical organization was reestablished.
The 18th Century and the Rise of Liberalism. Emperor from 1658 to 1735, Leopold I set out to crush Hungarian separatism and Protestantism. His policy of cuius regio eius religio caused the anti-Hapsburg movement to assume a predominantly Protestant tinge. Catholic Francis Rákóczi II (1676–1735) headed the struggle for Hungarian independence, his armies fighting under flags adorned with pictures of the Blessed Virgin. After Rákóczi's defeat in 1708 he went into exile. Transylvania joined the rest of Hungary in being incorporated into the Hapsburg Empire, and Charles VI, emperor from 1711 to 1740, repeopled devastated regions with foreign settlers, mostly Germans. He also granted full religious liberty to Protestants but required them to restore confiscated Catholic churches. Mixed marriages were permitted, with the provision that any children of such marriages be reared as Catholics. Charles created a seminary for each diocese and ordered that monastic revenues be diverted for their support.
Education continued under Church control during the reign of Charles VI, most prominently under the Jesuits, who ran about 40 schools by 1700. The Hermits of St. Paul, Benedictines, Cistercians, Premonstratensians and piarists became increasingly active in education from the late 17th century onward, the Piarists introducing the study of Hungarian history and literature, geography and natural science.
The reign of maria theresa (1740–80) was characterized by attempts to dominate the Church in the name of enlightened humanism and state absolutism. The state established its own schools and exercised control over private ones. It sought further to supervise all religious life, Catholic or Protestant. joseph ii (1765–90) carried his mother's policies to their conclusion by suppressing most religious orders, cutting off much contact with Rome, and otherwise attempting to bend the Church to the will of the state while otherwise granting extensive liberties to Protestants. His system, dubbed josephinism, remained influential within Hungarian political, intellectual and religious life until 1918, despite efforts of the Church to counter it.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Leopold Kollonitsch (1637–1707), archbishop of Esztergom, succeeded in reuniting with Rome more than 100,000 Romanian-and Ukrainian-rite schismatics in southeastern Hungary. To care for Romanian-rite Catholics in 1721 the diocese of Făgăras was erected, followed in 1777 by the diocese of Oradea Mare (Nagyvárad; both now in Romania). The diocese of Križeveci was erected in 1777 for Byzantine-Rite Catholics (now in Yugoslavia), and the diocese of Munkács (Mukachevo), was created in 1771 for the Ruthenians. Five Latin-rite dioceses were created in 1776 and 1777: Beszterczebanya (Banská Bystrica, 1776), Rozsnyó (Rožnava, 1776) and Szepes (Spiš), all now in the Czech Republic; and Szombathely and Székesfehérvár, in western Hungary.
Although the enlightenment, patronized by Joseph II, increasingly influenced late 18th-century intellectual life more and more, most Hungarian intellectuals came from the religious orders and belonged to the Benedictines, Hermits of St. Paul, Piarists, and Jesuits. Abbot Ignác Martinovics headed the sole professedly revolutionary society upholding the ideals of the French Revolution.
The Rise of Nationalism: The 19th Century. Humanism and ever-increasing, anti-Hapsburg nationalism were dominant and closely connected trends in 19th-century Hungarian political and intellectual life. Magyar asserted itself as the official language, the condition of the serfs improved, greater liberty was granted, and a Hungarian assembly was established that was responsible only to the imperial parliament. An awakening Hungarian consciousness also aroused nationalist sentiments within those ethnic groups living within Hungary. As revolution swept over Europe in 1848, Metternich was driven from power. Lajos (Louis) Kossuth led an unsuccessful two-year struggle for independence that drew nobles and peasants together, but was unable to destroy the mutual hostilities of the national groups within the Hapsburg dominion. After the Russian army came to the aid of Austria, Hapsburg absolutism retrenched for another two decades. Among the many Catholic clerics who participated in this independence movement was Mihály Horváth (1809–78), bishop of Csanád and an outstanding historian who served in the short-lived cabinet as minister of worship and education. Following the Hungarian defeat, he and several other patriotic archbishops and bishops were removed from office and imprisoned or exiled.
After the revolution of 1848 political and intellectual life became completely secularized. Protestants, more active in the uprising, accommodated themselves more easily to the new developments and gained political power disproportionate to their numbers. It became increasingly difficult to differentiate creative intellectuals on the basis of their faith, as religious and metaphysical viewpoints faded into the background. By the time of the 1867 compromise agreement that granted Hungary extensive independence within the Hapsburg empire, scarcely any of the prominent statesmen or intellectuals owed their outlook to Catholic convictions; notable exceptions included distinguished statesman Count István Széchenyi (1791–1860), statesman, humanist and noveliest Baron József Eötvös (1813–71) and composer Franz liszt.
The 20th Century. After 1867, religious literature, art, music and philosophy maintained an existence apart from the cultural mainstream. Still, the Catholic viewpoint became an important element of balance as Catholic priests produced important theological, historical and sociological studies. Nationalism, however, provided for many a substitute for religion. The rise of capitalism in Hungary also influenced the Church, which still owned much of its huge holdings from the past and was therefore forced into a defensive position politically and intellectually. In virtue of its rights of patronage, the government exercised great influence in episcopal nominations and selected as bishops men favorable to its policies. Baron Eötvös and other convinced Catholics among the ranks of statesmen, scholars, and writers considered it desirable for the Church to obtain independence of the State. The conference of bishops drafted a preliminary plan to this effect in 1869, but it did not receive the approval of Emperor Francis Joseph I. When the minister of worship and education kept deferring consideration of it, the bishops did not press the matter. Count Albert Apponyi (1846–1933), one of Hungary's leading statesmen at the turn of the 20th century, submitted a bill granting autonomy to the Church, but the military collapse of the Central Powers and the onset of World War I shattered all hopes for its passage. The measure was eventually nacted after Hungary became independent but within the framework of an arrangement that made Catholicism the state religion.
Catholic Life. Religious statistics for 1914 indicated that in Hungary (including the autonomous areas of Croatia and Slovenia) Latin-rite Catholics constituted half the population, Catholics belonging to the Eastern Churches under ten percent, Orthodox 14.3 percent, and Calvinists, Lutherans and Jews comprising the remainder. Despite their majority, most people who identified themselves as Catholics retained their faith as something hallowed by tradition; Catholic beliefs did not guide their outlook and actions. Sunday Mass was esteemed as a social gathering. Very few Catholics went to confession except at the times of marriage and death. There existed a chasm between the hierarchy and the lower clergy and between priests and laity. Higher ecclesiastical positions signified primarily temporal dignity and power. Indicative of the close connection between the ecclesiastical and political spheres was the fact that János Czernoch (1852–1927) became archbishop of Esztergom and cardinal after serving for years in parliament as representative of the People's party and after promoting the Christian Socialist party, whose program was pseudo-social. The diminished numbers in religious orders provided an index of the decline in the spiritual life.
New Movements. To remedy these deficiences the Catholic Youth Association (1856) and the Altar Society (1859) were formed, largely on the initiative of the Piarists. Alkotmány, founded in 1896, was the first Catholic daily newspaper to enjoy an extended existence. Until its demise in 1919 it promoted the agenda of the People's party, a Catholic party whose program represented the ideals of the Catholic aristocracy and lower middle class.
Hungarian Catholics followed the example of the German Catholic Katholikentage by organizing annual gatherings and imitating several other initiatives before later gaining inspiration from French Catholicism. The Regnum Marianum, organized in 1903, became a flourishing spiritual center among Catholic students and bourgeoisie in Budapest. About this time Gyula Glattfelder, Bishop of Csanád, founded St. Emeric Catholic Youth Association and St. Emetic College, which provided a residence for Catholic university students. Worthy as these and later organizations were, they suffered from their obsessive opposition to liberalism and freemasonry and from their failure to understand Hungary's social problems.
Catholic reform movements demonstrated a close connection between the strengthening of discipline within the religious orders and the deepening of popular religious life. As a result of improvements within the orders, the Benedictines, Carmelites, Capuchins, Dominicans and Jesuits increasingly engaged in apostolic endeavors. The leading pioneers of Catholic renewal before 1914 were Ottokár Prohászka (1858–1927) and Sándor Giesswein (1856–1923). As bishop of Székesfehérvár, Prohászka was the first to coordinate developments in the natural and social sciences and modern intellectual trends with the Catholic viewpoint, his aim to win the educated classes back to the Church. Giesswein, a prelate, sought to implement Catholic social principles, especially through movements for Catholic workers.
The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 ended Hungary's political connections with Austria. After the October Revolution (1918), an independent republic was proclaimed, but much of the region was occupied by the newly created states of the Little Entente. Since the governing classes were unconcerned with social problems, dissatisfaction was widespread and a chaotic situation developed that made possible a brief Communist takeover in 1919 under Béla Kun, the first dictatorship of the proletariat. Short as this regime was, its consequences were momentous.
Citing as their motivation the close relationship between the Church and the semifeudal landowners, the Communist government enacted severe antireligious legislation. Following the regime's military collapse under an attack from the armies of the Little Entente, the conservatives regained power and anti-semitism increased. A "white" terror then followed the "red" terror. While some priests and laymen believed the time propitious for the establishment of a political, social and cultural order based on Catholic principles, conservatives, led by Admiral Miklós (Nicholas) Horthy (1868–1957), nullified most of their proposals. In order to put into effect some of their program Catholic reform leaders had to make compromises. Horthy proclaimed Hungary a monarchy in 1920 and, in the absence of a king, ruled the country as regent. Jusztinian Serédi, an outstanding canon lawyer who collaborated with Cardinal Gasparri in the codification of the Code of Canon Law, was archbishop of Esztergom (1927–45). During these years as primate, his episcopate manifested the contradictory trends that characterized Hungarian life as a whole.
By the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, based on the principle of nationality, Hungary lost almost 75 percent of its territory and over half its 18 million inhabitants to the newly established states of Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia. As a result of the change, the percentage of Latin-rite Catholics and Calvinists increased, while that of Eastern-rite Catholics declined considerably and that of the Orthodox fell to negligible size.
Ecclesiastical organization underwent radical changes also. Five Latin-rite dioceses and two Easternrite sees passed to Czechoslovakia. Four Latin-rite dioceses and four Eastern Catholic sees became part of Romania. Three Latin sees, one Eastern see, and territory later formed into two apostolic administrations went to Yugoslavia. Italy acquired territory that later became a diocese. Only four sees in Hungary remained territorially intact. As reorganized at this time Hungary possessed three metropolitan sees and eight dioceses.
Catholic Activities to 1944. During his term as regent (1920–44), Horthy, a Calvinist, permitted the Church to realize partially its ambition of freedom from state supervision. In 1929 Horthy exercised the traditional governmental power of ecclesiastical patronage, at which time the Holy See admitted that the assent of the minister of worship and education, always a Catholic, was necessary for the nomination of bishops, chosen on the basis of recommendations by the conference of bishops. Despite such government intervention, the Church continued to control most elementary schools and a substantial minority of the secondary ones, while the state maintained all higher education. The government supported the Church's right to establish, administer and supervise schools and subsidized Church-affiliated schools with public funds. Seminaries enjoyed freedom from government interference.
Among those noted for their apostolic endeavors were the Jesuits Béla Bangha (1880–1940) and Ferenc Biró (1869–1938), who worked in Budapest to foster a Catholic press; Count Gusztáv Majláth, a bishop of Transylvania, who was known as "everybody's confessor," and Sándor sÍk, a Piarist priest, university professor and noted poet who was a leader in the Catholic Boy Scout movement and founder of the Young Hungarians, an organization for youthful intellectuals. Tihamér Tóth (1889–1940), bishop of Veszprém, was a noted preacher, writer, and an apostle of youth. The Catholic People's Alliance (Katolikus Népszövetseg) maintained a close relationship with the Catholic political parties and declined in importance with them.
Congregations of religious women were founded to engage in educational and charitable works. The Social Mission Sisters were started in 1908. From this institute developed the Sisters of Social Service, founded in 1923 by Margit Schlachta, and active in the U.S. since 1926. Osvát Oslay, OFM, founded the Sisters of the Poor. These and other religious congregations, in collaboration with lay Catholics, organized the Association of Catholic Working Girls and Women and the Crusade of the Sacred Heart (Szivgárda), which became very popular among elementary school children. Ward College trained lay teachers of religion.
Jenő Kerkai, SJ, and other priests cooperated to organize the long-neglected rural youths and to instill in them a Catholic social spirit by means of retreats and "people's universities." To aid young urban workers, EMSZO (Egyházközségi Munkás Szakosztályok) and KIOE (Katolikus Iparos Ifjak Országos Egyesülete) were created in the 1930s. KALÁSZ (Katolikus Lányok Szövetkezete) sought to assist young women in country districts.
The Rising Tide of Fascism and Anti-Semitism. Late in the 1930s the Fascist states gained a steadily increasing influence in Hungary, particularly after the German annexation of Austria in 1938. As a result Hungary's fascist element became increasingly aggressive. Following the Munich Agreement in September of 1938, Hungary, supported by Germany and Italy, acquired southern Slovakia, then moved, with German backing, to occupy Carpathian Ukraine in March of 1939. When Germany, Italy and Japan concluded their three-power pact in September of 1940, the Hungarian government endorsed it.
Under pressure from German chancellor Adolf Hitler, in May of 1939 the Hungarian parliament passed drastic anti-Jewish laws, which rendered precarious the fate of Hungarian Jews, including many Christians of Jewish origin and many converts. Following the German occupation of Hungary in March of 1944, anti-Semitism was carried to extremes, as it was elsewhere under Nazi domination. Huge numbers of Jews were sent to extermination centers in Germany or Austria. Only a temporary halt in this program of genocide was effected by the strong resistance of the Hungarian populace, aided by Western European nations, the United States and particularly by the Holy See. Angelo Rotta, the papal nuncio, sent numerous protests against the deportations of Jews, organized the united remonstration of Western diplomats and gave papal safeguard to many Jews by letters of asylum and by homes rendered inviolable by Vatican protection. While many individual Christians helped the persecuted Jews, organized help only came from the Catholic and Protestant churches. Religious orders and congregations of men and women were especially active in this work, many, like as did Bishops József Mindszenty and Vilmos Apor and Archabbot Krizosztom Kelemen of Pannonhalma, endangering their own lives in the process. As a result the majority of the Jews in Budapest were spared.
The Church under Communism. After the collapse of Germany, Hungary was occupied by Soviet troops in late 1944. Some contacts with the West survived until 1948, sparking hope that the country would once again gain political and cultural independence. However, a totalitarian Communist regime remained in power until the early 1990s. By 1970 all the Church-related elementary schools and the 32 Church-related teacher's colleges existing in 1945 had disappeared. Church-related secondary schools dropped in number from 49 to eight, Catholic newspapers from 68 to four, Catholic publishers from 50 to two, and religious societies for lay Catholics from 4,000 to two.
Persecution. The Catholic Church ceased to be the state religion. Bishops, provincial superiors of religious orders and archabbots lost their membership in the upper house of parliament. In 1945 the government confiscated huge amounts of ecclesiastical possessions, depriving the Church of almost all its 1,225,000 acres of land. Despite the long-recognized need for land reform in the region, this action was not so much a reform as a confiscation intended to prepare the way for a collective farming system in which private property scarcely existed.
The government abolished also the parish assessments, resulting in a great decline in revenues and forcing the Church to depend more and more on government subsidies. The Communist regime used these subsidies as a means of intimidating the Church. Another part of the government program, which called for the confiscation of books from private and Church libraries, resulted in the sequestration or burning of a large percentage of the existing religious literature. Until 1957 it was forbidden to publish religious books, and from that date until the fall of communism this type of literature was given no space in Hungary's public libraries.
Under communism, many priests were deported or imprisoned, generally on the pretext that they were conspiring against the state. The same reason was used to justify the suppression of almost all Catholic organizations, particularly youth movements. The Soviet army of occupation put to death Bishop Vilmos Apor of Györ on March 30, 1945, while he was defending women against brutalities.
Mindszenty. József mindszenty (1892–1975) led the Hungarian people in their steady opposition to communism. In the eyes of the masses he was the nation's leader. As pastor in a small town and as bishop of Veszprém (1944–45) he was very active in apostolic and social endeavors. In conjunction with several other bishops, he sought the cessation of useless blood shedding, causing fascist agents to imprison him. In 1945 he became archbishop of Esztergom, and in 1946 cardinal. As primate he composed the pastoral letters of the hierarchy revealing the details of religious persecution and decrying tyranny and atrocities, although Archbishop Gyula Czapik and other bishops preferred a more conciliatory attitude.
The year 1948, proclaimed by the cardinal as the Year of Our Lady, was marked by massive demonstrations in favor of religious and national freedom. To the Communists, Mindszenty's tremendous popularity was the main obstacle to their success. Annihilation of the Church's power and influence became their immediate objective. To attain it, and also to remove political rivals, they purged the Christian Democratic People's party, the Liberty party, and the Smallholders party, all of which favored the Church. Ferenc Nagy, prime minister and Monsignor Béla Varga, president of Parliament, went into exile. In December of 1948 Mindszenty was accused of subversion, treason, spying and currency manipulation and was arrested, tried, and condemned to death. After torture and drugs had extorted a confession of guilt from him, his statements were publicized during a showcase trial, and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
Concurrent with Mindszenty's imprisonment, the anti-Catholic efforts of the government escalated. Leading Catholic priests and laymen were condemned. Arrests of many other outstanding priests followed. Almost all members of religious orders were imprisoned or deported. Compulsory religious instruction was abolished. All Catholic schools were closed, and their property was confiscated.
By means of intimidation the bench of bishops was constrained to sign an agreement with the government on Aug. 30, 1949 that assured the Church liberty and the ability to conduct its work. Six Catholic schools for boys and two for girls were returned. Except for the Benedictines, the Franciscans, the Piarists and the School Sisters of Szeged, all religious orders were suppressed, but deportations of religious ceased. The hierarchy recognized the existing regime and permitted priests to take an oath of loyalty to the government. The Church was obligated to support the economic goals of the regime and to condemn anti-Communist activities. The government, on its part, assured a meager financial subsidy to the Church. Despite this agreement, relations between the Church and the Hungarian government remained strained into the 1950s.
The Communist government now claimed the right to exercise the power formerly held by the minister of worship and education in the nomination of bishops. Through its Office of Church Affairs (1951), the government named and transferred pastors and supervised or otherwise controlled other Church business through its own "Progressive" Catholic church. In June of 1951 József Grösz, archbishop of Kalocsa, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after a forced confession of guilt. Mindszenty and Grösz were placed under house arrest in 1955. In 1956 Grösz was freed and permitted to assume leader-ship of the hierarchy; Cardinal Mindszenty was liberated by freedom fighters during the failed October Revolution against Soviet control led by Imre Nagy but, after the defeat of the national uprising, took refuge at the U.S. legation in Budapest, where he remained in permanent protest against the subjugation of the Catholic faith. Upon Pope Paul VI 's emphatic request, Cardinal Mindszenty left for Rome in September of 1971 and later moved to Vienna. Until Mindszenty's death in 1975 the pope declared the primate's chair in Esztergom as vacant.
Bibliography: Bibliographia hungariae, ed. r. gragger, 4v. in 1 (Berlin 1923–39). l. balics, The History of the Catholic Church in Hungary to c. 1300, 3 v. (Budapest 1885–90) in Hung.; The History of Christianity in the Area of Our Present Homeland until the Settling of the Hungarians (Budapest 1901) in Hung. e. horn, Le Christianisme en Hongrie (Paris 1906); Organisation religieuse de la Hongrie (Paris 1906). Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50) 7.1:41–61,9.2:1566–71. c. wolfsgruber, Kirchengeschichte Österreichs-Ungarn (Vienna 1909). t. nagy, History of Christianity in Hungary (Budapest 1939), in Hung. b. hÓman and g. szekfÜ, Hungarian History, 5 v. (2d ed. Budapest 1935–36), in Hung. b. hÓman, Geschichte des ungarischen Mittelalters, 2 v. (Berlin 1940–43). j. csuday, Die Geschichte der Ungarn, tr. m. darvai, 2 v. (2d ed. Berlin 1900). c. a. macartney, Hungary (London 1934); Hungary: A Short History (Chicago 1962); The Magyars in the Ninth Century (Cambridge, Eng. 1931); A History of Hungary, 1929–1945, 2 v. (New York 1956–57). d. g. kosÁry, A History of Hungary (Cleveland 1941). f. dvornik, The Making of Central and Eastern Europe (London 1949). l. feketekÚty, Ungarn vom heiligen Stephan his Kardinal Mindszenty (Zurich 1950). j. zeiller, Les Origines chrétiennes dans les provinces danubiennes de l'Empire romain (Bibliothéque des Écoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome, fasc. 112; Paris 1918). h. leclercq, "Pannonie," Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, eds., f. cabrol, h. le clercq and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 1907–53) 13.1:1046–63. j. deÉr, Heathen Hungarians, Christian Hungarians (Szeged 1934), in Hung. b. rÖss, "Die Bekehrung der Ungarn," Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft und Religionswissenschaft, 24 (1934) 301–311. g. lÁszlÓ, "Die Reiternomaden der Völkerwanderungszeit und das Christentum in Ungarn," Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschicte, 59 (1940) 125–146. a. lippold and e. kirsten, "Donauprovinzen," Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, ed. t. klauser [Stuttgart 1941 (1950)–] 4:147–189. k. juhÁsz, Das Tschanad-Temesvarer Bistum im frühen Mittelalter, 1030–1307 (Münster 1930); Laien im Dienst der Seelsorge während der Türkenherrschaft in Ungarn (Münster 1960). b. eberl, Die Ungarnschlacht auf dem Lechfeld (Gunzenlê) im Jahre 955 (Augsburg 1955). a. lefaivre, Les Magyars pendant la domination ottomane en Hongrie, 1526–1722, 2 v. (Paris 1902). a. s. atiya, The Crusade of Nicopolis (London 1934). l. polgÁr, Bibliographia de historia Societatis Iesu in regnis olim corona hungarica unitis, 1560–1773 (Rome 1957). j. miskolczy, Ungarn in der Habsburger-Monarchie (Vienna 1959). w. p. juhÁsz, "Social and Political Catholicism in Hungary," in Church and Society, ed. j. n. moody (New York 1953) 659–719; Blueprint for a Red Generation (New York 1952); Hungarian Social Reader, 1945–1964 (Munich 1965). k. kiraly, The History of Attempts for a Catholic-Protestant Unity in Hungary (New Brunswick, NJ 1965). The Red and the Black: The Church in the Communist State (New York 1953). a. galter, The Red Book! of the Persecuted Church (Westminster, MD 1957), tr. from French. s. mihalovics, Mindszenty, Ungarn, Europa (Karlsruhe 1949). g. n. shuster, Religion behind the Iron Curtain (New York 1954). g. szÉchÉnyi, Ungarn zwischen Rot und Rot (Munich 1963). r. a. graham, The Church of Silence (New York 1955). j. s. szabÓ, Der Protestantismus in Ungarn (Berlin 1927), tr. from Hung. w. toth, "Christianization of the Magyars," Church History, 11 (1942) 33–54; "Highlights of the Hungarian Reformation," ibid. 9 (1940) 141–156; "Trinitarianism versus Antitrinitarianism in the Hungarian Reformation," ibid. 13 (1944) 255–268; "Stephan Kis of Szeged," Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, 44 (1953) 86–181. Bilan du Monde. Encyclopédie catholique du monde chrétien, 2 v. (2d ed. Tournai 1964). 2:452–461. Annuario Pontificio has information on all diocese. Katholikus szemle (Rome 1936–). Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 1, ed. m. buchberger, 10 v. (Freiburg 1930–38) v.1, 10:383–389; v. 2, 10:488–494.
The Church under Communism. The effects of decades of communist oppression were many. Beside the loss of political faith, the national traditions were being eliminated under far-reaching modernization policies. The agricultural sector was collectivized, and the peasantry fled to the cities. The existing geographical and social structure disintegrated. The totalitarian regime made the organization of a new social system difficult. Individualism and atomization increased, as did social problems. The rate of suicides, divorces, abortions and alcoholism rose to among the highest in the world, while the life expectancy of Hungarians began to drop markedly during the 1970s.
While in the official central government the role of the party and the ideology decreased, society began to become independent. In 1966 the government instituted economic reforms designed to overcome the inefficiencies of central planning, increase productivity, make Hungary more competitive in world markets and create prosperity to ensure political stability. In contrast to the state-controlled economy, the home economy and moonlighting became so dominant that it generated a greater part of the national product than did the state economy. Beside the centrally controlled press, a larger number of illegal samizdats appeared. In the state-supervised Church, there flourished an underground activity and social groups. In short, the development of society outsmarted and undermined central control and supervision. Until the mid-1980s this was a spontaneous process; after that time there was a conscious pursuit to the regime. The political revolution of 1989 was successful in Hungary because it took place over an already existing market economy, on the initiatives of democratic institutions and on private enterprises.
Development of the Underground Church. While after the 1949 agreement between the bishops and the government the practice of religion was allowed in the churches, the state continued to prohibit congregational activity, all movements and organizations, public activity and religious presence in every day life. Religious instruction became impossible, or was forced underground. As priests became the subject of surveillance due to their public profile, ties between the visible Church and the underground Church weakened, and the two levels began to develop independently of one another. In the end the underground sector disintegrated as well, since during the persecution everyone strove for the utmost secrecy.
On the underground, or unofficial level, the key questions for the Church were community building, religious instruction, the fostering of spirituality, and the acquisition of a Christian culture. These goals were achieved primarily through the small communities and through camps camouflaged as tourist sites. All these were considered illegal by the state, or classified as conspiracy against the state, and persecuted and punished accordingly. In the 1970s the number of illegal Catholic communities was around 4,000, with an estimated membership of 100,000. Apart from the Communist Party and the party-supervised unions, there was no other social movement comparable in size. While during the first two decades of Communism persecution was directed primarily towards priests and religious, from the 1960s increasingly the laity was targeted.
Between 1945 and 1964, 360 diocesan priests (out of a total of 3,600), 940 religious priests (out of 1,420), 200 religious brothers (out of 1,300) and 2,200 women religious (out of 10,000) were imprisoned or placed in concentration camps. Thirty-four priests were either executed or died in prison. The most common forms of persecution against laypeople were loss or restrictions on jobs, prohibitions against higher education, and continual police surveillance; such persecutions often extended to other members of the family. Community-organizing activities resulted in imprisonment. Those arrested in these persecutions were gradually released during the 1970s; Pope Paul VI won the release of the last of the imprisoned priests in June of 1977 when he gave an audience to János Kádár, the secretary general of the Hungarian Communist Party.
Both the Vatican and Hungarian bishops attempted to maintain religious life within the framework authorized by the state. Faced with the possibilities of leaving sees long vacant or having them filled by unworthy government appointees, the Holy See signed an agreement with the Hungarian government on Sept. 30, 1964 whereby bishops appointed in accordance with the pact were required to take oaths of loyalty to the communist government following their consecration. This agreement resulted in the appointment of five bishops; the state and the Vatican shared the appointment of future bishops. Further results included the opening of the Hungarian Pontifical Institute in Rome in 1965 and a pilgrim house in 1967; permission for a pilgrimage to Rome in 1972; and the opening of a Christian museum. Unfortunately, because the issue of the imprisoned priests and other Catholics was not addressed in this agreement, many Catholics felt betrayed and the Church began to lose parishioners.
The presence of Cardinal Mindszenty in Budapest had remained a constant irritant to the state, and his departure for Rome in 1971 at the urging of the pope did much to improve Hungarian-Vatican relations. György Lázár, the Hungarian prime minister, received an audience with Pope Paul VI in November of 1975, followed by a meeting between the pope and Communist Party general secretary János Kádár, two years later. In November of 1984 Pope John Paul II received the president of the Office of Church Affairs, which had been in charge of the church persecutions. In response, the state continued to loosen restrictions on Church activity. In 1978, it allowed lay people to register for theological studies and permitted Hans-Peter Kolvenbach, the superior general of the Society of Jesus, to visit his fellow Jesuits in Hungary in 1985, the latter move interpreted as an unspoken recognition of the Jesuit order, which had been suppressed in 1950.
The Fall of Communism. Because of the moderate economic programs of its communist leadership, Hungary experienced a smooth transition to capitalism and parliamentary democracy compared to many nations in the Soviet sphere. Social and political activism increased and by 1987 nationalist movements were active and Budapest-based intellectuals were increasing pressure for change. Numerous political parties came into being, their purpose to gain independence. In 1988 the constitution was revised to allow freedom of association and freedom of religion. The Soviet Union reduced its presence within Hungary, and withdrew its forces by June of 1991. A symbolic reburial in June of 1989 of executed October Revolution leader Imre Nagy and his associates, helped to give closure to those victimized during the tragedy of 1956.
On Oct. 18, 1989 a new constitution was promulgated and two days later the region became a democratic republic. The fall of Communism wrought a fundamental change in ecclesiastical policy, as well as social and political life. The new Hungarian government extended an invitation to Pope John Paul II to visit Hungary. The diplomatic ties that had been severed in 1945 were reestablished. The 1950 decree that had suppressed religious orders was repealed. Early in 1990 the Parliament passed a law guaranteeing freedom of conscience and religion. The Supreme Court nullified the 1948 verdict against Cardinal Mindszenty. Representatives of the state and the Church mutually declared void the 1950 agreement between the Hungarian Catholic Church and the state that had been forced by the Communist government. A Christian democratic coalition won the elections that were held in the spring of 1990. It was a free Hungary that received Pope John Paul II in August of 1991.
The Resurgence of the Church. Between 1945 and 1990 the nature of religion changed, moving from an integral part of Hungarian culture to an antiquated tradition out of touch with a society devoid of hope. Before the late 1950s most Hungarians attended church regularly, and all children were baptized. The failure of the October Revolution and the concurrent economic downturn marked a shift, and between 1960 and 1978 the percentage of children baptized fell to 69 percent, and Sunday church attendance fell from 70 to eight percent.
Despite the large scale de-Christianization of Hungarian society, the phenomenon of a religion based on personal conviction increased during the last two decades of the 20th century. As the public lost faith in the Communist regime during the 1980s, many reverted to their traditional faith and looked for solutions to the country's social and economic ills to the same Church-run institutions that had supported the social fabric through schools, hospitals and other social outreach programs in the past. The rural congregations of the past were replaced by an evolving urban-based faith that gained strength among the intellectuals, the young, and those in major cities. A surge in religiosity became apparent. Hungarian society, while becoming more independent economically and culturally, demonstrated that it had become independent ideologically as well. In 1986, 60 percent of the population considered themselves religious; by 1991, that figure had risen to 70 percent. In 1990 Hungary reestablished diplomatic relations with the Holy See, and three years later Pope John Paul II restructured the hierarchy to realign the diocese with territorial changes as well as the growing population.
During the 1990s the government enacted economic reforms and privatized many industries, also adopting a policy of fiscal austerity in 1995. In response to voters's demands for the inclusion of the churches in public affairs and the return of previous ecclesiastical institutions, a law was passed in 1990 that legalized religious institutions. However, three issues remained unresolved. The government declared the separation of church and state, but the meaning of the "separation" remained unclear. In addition, the legal status of the Churches was unclear. Also, there was no mention of the return of Church property nationalized in the 1950s, nor of compensation for losses suffered due to persecution under the Communist era. Separation meant that the Church, plundered and ruined, was left on its own. During the debates that followed, a strong social polarization developed along religious lines, showing that communist indoctrination of anti-Church prejudice had been successful among some Hungarians. In 1991 a law was passed allowing partial compensation to the churches for property confiscated in the 1940s and 1950s, and for the restoration of property required for religious, educational, welfare, health and monastic purposes within ten years; due to financial difficulties, the law was amended in 1995. On June 20, 1997 the government and the Vatican concluded an agreement regulating state subsidies for Church-operated schools and hospitals, and setting up the restoration of former Church property. The 850 properties in state hands were scheduled to be returned between 1998 and 2010, while an additional 1,000 formerly church properties would be retained and compensated for by the state. Restitution for the over 600,000 Hungarian Jews killed during the Holocaust Parliament was also granted through the creation of a Hungarian Jewish Heritage Fund. The state also passed a law allowing citizens to allocate one percent of their personal income tax to the Church.
Into the 21st Century. The documents of Vatican II appeared in Hungarian only in 1975, and were of little relevance for a Church then attempting to survive in an oppressive environment. A defense against persecution at times led to a fundamentalist position that contravened the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. Any renewal, a dialogue with the rest of the world, or ecumenical cooperation occurred among the secular Christians and within the small, underground communities. The fall of communism resulted in a reappraisal of the Church; the recognition of its institutionalized, structured ecclesiastical order and its practical re-evaluation. During his trip to Hungary in September of 1996, Pope John Paul II encouraged Catholic leaders "to promote unity among Christians," through "engagement in dialogue, in listening, and in the advancement of those things which bring us together."
The rebuilding of the Church would be a monumental challenge that would continue for many decades. By 2000 the religious orders were regaining their former strength, with over 60 female orders and 25 male religious orders in Hungary. The rebuilding of Catholic education institutions was underway, and by 2000 there were 50 nursery schools, 96 elementary schools, 50 secondary schools, 18 teacher-training colleges and several colleges directed by catholic communities or religious orders. The Catholic media also expanded. However, crime and an increasing indifference to religion on the part of many Hungarians was also noted, and during the 2001 ad limina visit from Hungary's bishops, the pope expressed his concern over the rising abortion rate in the country resulting from the availability of legal abortions. He encouraged the bishops to extend their ministries to younger generations, who had not grown up with faith, and establish a Catholic university in the country.
By 2000 there were 2,214 parishes tended by 2,000 diocesan and 505 religious priests. Other religious included approximately 160 brothers and 1,700 sisters, who were involved in education and other outreach programs. In 2000 a step toward resolution between Orthodox and Catholics in Hungary was made when the Patriarch of Constantinople recognized the Catholic saint King Stephen I, founder of Hungary in 1000, as an Orthodox saint; both faiths celebrated St. Stephen's day for the first time on Aug. 21, 2000, in a gathering in Budapest.
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