Amid New Boundaries and Old Restraints

As a result, of the Treaty of Trianon the Eparchy of Hajdúdorog lost one half of its parishes. Seventy-five parishes went to Romania and four to Czechoslovakia. Aside from the eighty-two in the Eparchy of Hajdúdorog, there were also in Hungary twenty parishes from the Eperjes and one each from the Munkács, Nagyvárad, and Lugos Eparchies. In addition to the serious territorial loses, Hungary’s Greek Catholics had to endure the further notable decline in their social significance and their reputation. Before World War I, 9.8 percent of Hungary’s population was Greek Catholic. This had declined to 2.2 percent by 1920. The loss of Transylvania was attributed by Hungarian public opinion to the Romanian national movement, which was tied by a thousand strands to the Greek Catholic Church. The antipathy toward Romanians also engulfed the Hungarian Greek Catholics, who, based on the old but not forgotten habitual ways of thought, were branded by the majority in Hungary as unreliable and alien from the Hungarian nation. The long struggle of the Hungarian Greek Catholics, which by the time of the foundation of the eparchy had come to be viewed by almost the entire public opinion as truly a part of the national cause, was now completely forgotten. During the 1920s and 1930s the Greek Catholics in Hungary could feel that their road was once again a road to Calvary.

 

The Eparchy of Hajdúdorog was in a serious financial crisis. The most reliable financial foundation, the Pásztory bequest, was located mostly in Romania, and from there no one could expect compensation. Due to the country’s catastrophic economic situation, the support from the government was insufficient for the operation of the eparchy. The seminarists of the eparchy had to leave the seminary in Ungvár, which fell under Czechoslovakian authority, and they were sent to the  Seminary in Esztergom. Since the seminary was the most important diocesan institution, bishop Miklósy, already in 1920, asked the government to set up the school in Nyíregyháza, where the Palace of the Austro-Hungarian Bank, which was scheduled to be sold, appeared to be appropriate for the school. The Minister of Religion and Public Education József Vas and the government supported the idea, and requested the opinion of János Csernoch, Archbishop of Esztergom (1912-1927), on the matter. The prince primate did not support the establishment of an independent Greek Catholic seminary. He argued that the enormous seminary in Esztergom was almost empty because the largest part of the territory of the archbishopric had become a part of Czechoslovakia. He noted that he had already accepted the Greek Catholic seminarians for whose formation only a teacher of their rites was still required. The rejection by the prince primate proved to be decisive, and the government removed the question of the Nyíregyháza seminary from its agenda. In spite of the prince primate’s promise, no teacher of rituals came to be employed, and bishop Miklósy organized summer courses for the seminarians in Máriapócs, where Leontin Dolhy and Tivadar Legeza, both basilian fathers, offered instruction. For the rest of the decade the government did not consider the question of the establishment of a Greek Catholic seminary on its merits. The reason for this, among others, was that bishop Miklósy, unlike the Roman Catholic bishops, could not accept the Horthy system, which had developed, nor could he accept the person of the Regent. He was a royalist by conviction and supported the efforts of Charles IV to return. Even after these failed, he retained his legitimist views. Of necessity, this led to his isolation and contributed to the lack of benefits for the Greek Catholics from the blessings of the so-called “Catholic Renaissance” of the interwar period.

 

A new organization volunteered to represent the interests of the Greek Catholics in 1921. The Standing Executive Committee of Hajdúdorog had disbanded itself after the consecration of bishop Miklósy. After the end of World War I, the National Commission, located in Budapest, also dissolved. The Union of Hungarian Greek Catholics, which had been founded in 1902 and had published a newspaper entitled Görögkatolikus Hírlap [Greek Catholic Newspaper], had ceased its activities earlier. The creation of a new national organization seemed essential. The first steps for such an organization were made by Atanáz Maxim, the superior of the monastery in Máriapócs, Miklós Fedák, János Kozma, Dániel Véghseő, parish priests of Levelek, Nyírcsászár and Nyírbakta respectively. The new organization, the National Alliance of Magyar Greek Catholics (MAGOSZ), was formed on 1 October 1921. With bishop Miklósy at the head, the inaugural meeting included 370 representatives from seventy parishes and 15,000 faithful The chief patron of the organization was the bishop, and the lay president became József Illés (1871-1944), a professor and a member of Parliament. He was a well-regarded jurist who as a young law student had participated in the Roman pilgrimage and later worked with the National Commission. During the 1920s, he negotiated several times in Rome on behalf of the Hungarian Greek Catholics. He was received in a private audience by Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922) and also by Pope Pius IX (1922-1939). MAGOSZ operated four departments: Devotion to Faith, Culture, Finance, and Press. The last of these created the MAGOSZ Press, which published the Máriapócsi Naptár [ Calendar of Máriapócs] and Görögkatolikus Tudósító [Greek Catholic Reporter] with János Kozma as the editor, and after 1929 Görögkatolikus Szemle [Greek Catholic Magazine], which was edited by István Gróh (1867-1936), the Rector of the College of Applied Arts. The publication desired to serve as a connecting link between the Greek Catholics living in the country. The alliance attempted to establish a Greek Catholic financial institution but, due to the Great Depression, the Bank of the Upper Tisza Region was not able to develop. The Pál Vasvári Circle, which had been founded in 1904 but had been completely reorganized by 1921, served to strengthen Greek Catholic youth. The members of the Circle in their service and loyalty to Greek Catholicism wanted to follow the example, commitment and youthful enthusiasm of the Greek Catholic heroes of the Revolution of 1848 and the fight for liberty. In 1923, the Union of Hungarian Greek Catholics came into being, and in 1926 the National Organization of Hungarian Greek Catholic Women was formed with Miskolc as its center.

Several important publications, which helped to develop the liturgical life of the eparchy, appeared during the 1920s. The new Liturgy, A görög szertartású katolikus egyház szent és isteni Liturgiája [The Saint and Divine Liturgy of the Byzanite Rite Catholics], was published by the chancery office, “on first rate paper and with outstanding elegance.” The anaphor was printed not only in Hungarian but also in Greek. In this way bishop Miklósy wanted to demonstrate that he was at least trying to follow the instructions of the bull founding the eparchy. Right around the time of the publication of the Liturgy, the Holy See raised the possibility that due to the growing difficulties surrounding the use of the Greek language, the liturgical language of the Eparchy of Hajdúdorog should after all be Old Church Slavonic. Prince Primate Csernoch, János Csiszárik (1860-1936), elected bishop and adviser to the foreign ministry, as well as bishop Miklósy firmly rejected the suggestion. The Bishop of Hajdúdorog referred to the new Liturgy in his reply, and the Eastern Congregation immediately requested a copy. After several months of study, the Congregation indicated to the Prince Primate and bishop Miklósy that they remained responsible for doing everything possible to put an end to the use of the Hungarian language and to implement the use of Greek. The letter to the nuncio also discussed the book of Liturgy. The Congregation indicated that, due to the unusual situation of the Hungarian Greek Catholics, the cardinals deliberately did not mention the liturgical book. At the same time, they instructed Lorenzo Schioppa, nuncio (1920-1925), to convey in a private conversation to both the prince primate and to bishop Miklósy that the silence of the Holy See did not mean acceptance.

The republication of the Danilovics Prayer book was designed primarily to involve the believers in the Liturgy. It had been reworked in 1920 by Gábor Krajnyák (1886-1951), expert of the Byzantine Rite and assistant priest in Budapest. At the end of the decade he also published, Gyűjteményes nagy énekeskönyv [Large Prayer Collection], which spread throughout the parishes and came to play a decisive role for a long time. In 1925, the Evangéliumoskönyv [Book of the Gospels], designed for liturgical services, was published, and it was followed in 1927, Szerkönyv [Euchologion].

While seeking new avenues, the eparchy celebrated the tenth anniversary of its founding and the consecration of bishop Miklósy under the shock effects of the Treaty of Trianon. In the circular letter issued for the celebrations bishop Miklósy listed the important improvements that had to be delayed because of the unfortunate circumstances, what the grievances of the Hungarian Greek Catholics were, and why they felt that they had been abandoned. He encouraged the faithful to support each other, and drew attention to the fact that the preservation of the Eastern Rite, which had been present since ancient times in Hungary, had become entirely the duty and responsibility of the Hungarian Greek Catholics.