Sunday, September 4, 2011

ADSS 8.128 Cardinal Maglione's protest to Gabrielle Apor over the Hungarian race laws

When confronted with difficult situations the main avenue available to the Vatican was the diplomatic protest.  This case is from August 1941.  Throughout the war, the style of the official protest changed little.

When the Hungarian government of Laszlo Bardossy proposed and then presented changes to the marriage laws, outlawing marriage between Jews and non-Jews, Cardinal Maglione issued a formal protest to the Hungarian minister to the Holy See.  The protest is directed at potential violations of Catholic teaching on marriage which has an indirect appeal for Hungarian Jews. 

The language reflects not only the formal diplomatic use of the time, but the powerlessness of the Vatican to influence areas that would normally fall under its jurisdiction.  Maglione would have discussed the protest note with the Pope, and, as was Pius' manner, tried to word the note in such a way that the Hungarians would not be so offended as to consider a complete refusal to consider the Vatican's position.

The Hungarian response will be presented in the next post.

Volume and Document Number: ADSS 8.128

Reference: AES 6145/41 minute)
Location and date: Vatican City, 10.08.1941
Summary statement: Protest against the Hungarian race laws.
Language: French.


The Cardinal Secretary of State has the honour to communicate to His Excellency the Hungarian Minister [Gabrielle Apor] the following:

As soon as the Holy See learned that the Hungarian Government had presented bills on the marriage laws to the Parliament, it presented its concerns to the Hungarian Government in confidence through His Eminence, Cardinal Seredi, and also His Excellency the Minister and the Apostolic Nuncio in Budapest [Angelo Rotta].

The official projects concerning the obligatory medical examination before marriage and the defence of marriage between Jews and non-Jews, despite the explicit and legitimate opposition of the Catholic bishops of Hungary were, with minor changes, approved by the Parliament.

The Cardinal Secretary of State is obliged, therefore, to express to the Hungarian Government the concerns of the Holy See, with regard to respect for the Catholic doctrine of the sacrament of marriage.

The impact of the two proposals, if not felt immediately, will at least, indirectly, as a result of the civil act, which must precede the religious ceremony or lead to legal penalty, prevent the marriage. This is, properly, a matter for the Catholic Church.

It is only too evident that these two projects affect Catholic doctrine, in that they establish impediments to the celebration of marriage where neither the Law of God, nor ecclesiastical law have such restrictions.

The Cardinal Secretary of State, being forced to make these remarks to the Hungarian Minister, does however not wish to miss the opportunity to express confidence that the Hungarian Government would wish to introduce in the regulations related to the matter in question, mitigations and provisions that capable of satisfying the requirements of Catholic conscience.

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