Pressed by a Double Loyalty: Hungarian Attendance at the Second Vatican Council, 1959-1965

Pressed by a Double Loyalty: Hungarian Attendance at the Second Vatican Council, 1959-1965

Pressed by a Double Loyalty: Hungarian Attendance at the Second Vatican Council, 1959-1965

Pressed by a Double Loyalty: Hungarian Attendance at the Second Vatican Council, 1959-1965

Synopsis

The history of the Second Vatican Council and the history of the policy of openness towards the East-Central European Communist countries, that is, the so called Vatican “Ostpolitik,” were looked at until now as two separate topics of research. This work by András Fejérdy, researcher at the Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, demonstrates that it is not like that, but in reality, the two topics are closely linked.

Excerpt

The history of the Second Vatican Council and the history of the policy of openness towards the East-Central European Communist countries, that is, the so called Vatican “Ostpolitik,” were looked at until now as two separate topics of research. the virtue of András Fejérdy’s work is to demonstrate, at the end of a thorough-going study through various available archives (first of all of the party and state, but also ecclesiastical ones), that it is not like that but in reality the two topics are closely linked. the case of János Kádár’s Hungary is in that way particularly significant. More than all other popular democratic states, the Hungarian regime needed, after the brutal repression of the revolution in 1956, to project a good image of itself at the international level. If the goal pursued, in long term, remained the elimination of any religion, good sense recommended, in short term, to use the Catholic Church, such an old and solidly established institution, for the consolidation of the system and the achievement of a socialist society. This new church policy presupposed that all the so called “progressive” movements (as the peace priest movement) in favour of a collaboration with the government must be encouraged in the Church, and that all of the so called “reactionary” forces opposed to any kind of compromise with the Communist regime must be marginalized. the Council convoked by Pope John xxiii only three months after his election was an opportunity to draw the country of its isolation and, in the long term, reinforce the goals of Soviet policy (pacific coexistence, disarmament). the Hungarian and all socialist leaders started to realize in the spring of 1962, after being afraid at first that the event in preparation in Rome was only a way to reinforce the antagonism between the two blocs by building a sort of “religious curtain” (cortina religiosa) against the iron curtain, that the Council could be an occasion to achieve . . .

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