January 1999 Issue

Írta: Archívum - Rovat: Archívum, English


The Hungarian Catholic Church has already expressed its apologies regarding the Shoah. I am not sure whether there is any point in multiplying them” – reacted Cardinal László Paskai. head of the Hungarian Catholic Church to the papal encyclical letter Fifty Years Later: Reflections on the Shoah. Asztrik Várszegi, head of the Hungarian Benedictine Order did not share this refusing attitűdé, and has convened a conference on the theme at the famous centre of the order, at Pannonhalma. We have interviewed two participants of the conference; Özséb Horányi and Tamás Majsai, who are known to hold much more liberal positions than their respective churches. We can conclude that the conference followed the traditions of the Jewish-Christian dialogue in Hungary. The meeting consisted mainly of formai friendly acts, where both parties judged it more important to remain on speaking terms than to discuss real differences of opinions. “Where were the Jews when Jesus Christ was crucifled?” – retorted with a question Gellért Békés, a Catholic participant of the conference to the accusations against the Catholic Church conceming the Shoah. Mo one has criticised his contribution recalling medieval attitudes, which is a sign that in the Christian-Jewish relations in Hungary it is not the discussion of problems that is important bút the repetition of formai acts.

Our selection of interviews recalls the moments of the birth of the Jewish civil society ten years ago. The founders of the Federation to Maintain Jewish Culture in Hungary started to organise in 1987, during the one-party Sys­tem with the help of the reformers of the party. The establishing of the Federation in 1988 was a huge success, since it represented the first alternative Jewish organisation against the religious leadership which discredited itself with its collaboration. It’s democratic, pluralistic views, however, have broken up the Federation. As it is with revolutions, at the beginning the Federation acknowledged all ideology, and all kinds of Jewish identity. The Zionists, the religious, and those standing on national-ethnic or cultural basis fought fierce battles about the path to follow; most of them eventually lett the Federation or joined other Jewish organisations. The once pioneer of the Hungarian Jewish civil society is now but one of the many Jewish organisations.

Emil Várai s report presents the Jewish hospital. The State took the main part of the hundred-year-old building and the equipment atter 1948, the rest could function as the hospice for the elderly. This situation remained until today, though now the hospital has received back a bigger section of the building, where a modem policlinic has been established avail- able for all Jews. The predominant part of the hospital’s budget is covered ttom State sources – similarly to all Jewish institutions in Hungary.