Thursday, October 3, 2013

ADSS 8.141 Gabriel Apor to Cardinal Maglione: Hungarian government reply to Vatican protest

ADSS 8.141: Gabriel Apor, Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See to Cardinal Maglione

Reference:  No number; AES 7410/41

Location and date: Rome 06.09.1941

Summary statement: Justification for the Antisemitic laws in Hungary

Language: French


In reference to the letter of 13.08.1941 (1), I have the honour to communicate to Your Eminence the following:

The Hungarian Government has read, with sincere regret, the concerns Your Eminence expressed related to the introduced reforms to Hungarian marriage legislation.

The population of Hungary is – as is commonly known – is composed of different religions.   Therefore there has been a need for forty-seven years for the Hungarian State to regulate the institution of marriage by law and introduce legislation for obligatory civil marriage.

Since 1894 (2), the Hungarian Government has thus, invariably, taken the point of view that the regulations of the institution of marriage is a task that falls to the State, and therefore the Hungarian Government has never – since then – amended its point of view on this principle.

Political interests vital to the country require the Hungarian Government to introduce new prohibitive measures to matrimonial legislation.  These important interests have emerged from consequences, in part, from the general European situation, and in part, from special social conditions in Hungary, which have been exposed repeatedly by qualified representatives of the government to Parliament and have been expressed by the Prime Minister (3) to His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio. (4)

During the discussions of the proposed law in question, the Hungarian Government endeavoured to take into account the points of view expressed by His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio and His Eminence the Cardinal Prince-Primate (5) insofar as the political circumstances that made the reforms inevitable, allowed it.

The Hungarian government, for its part, ensures the Holy See, that within the framework of the law, has not lost sight of the considerations the Church attaches – on its part, a very high importance – when it comes to the execution and practice of the law.

The Hungarian Government sincerely regrets if these concessions have not entirely satisfied the Holy See, but expresses the hope that this matter will not affect the traditional friendly relations that have existed with Hungary since the time of our first king, St Stephen. (6)

(1) ADSS 8.128
(2) “In 1894-1995, a severe domestic conflict erupted in Hungary. The Liberal government then in power introduced legislation aimed at separating church and state.  The reforms with regard to the tole of the Catholic Church made civil marriage and birth registry obligatory, legalised divorce, granted Judaism equality with other faiths, and left it to parents in an interfaith marriage to decide what religious their children should follow.  These secularisation laws were strongly opposed by the Catholic clergy and conservative magnates in the upper house of the Hungarian parliament.  The laws finally were passed when Emperor Francis Joseph, who had disliked the secularisation laws and procrastinated in his support of the Hungarian government, finally put pressure on the magnates to vote for the bills in order to avoid a prolonged crisis”. Solomon Wank (2009), In the Twilight of Empire: count Alois Lexa von Aehrehthal (1854-1912) Imperial Hapsburg Patriot and Statesman, Volume 1, p 146.  See too Paul Hanebrink (2006), In Defense of Christian Hungary:religion, Nationalism and Antisemitism 1890-1944,  pp 23-28. Many of Hungary’s senior clergy had been young priests during the bitter clash over the introduction of civil marriage in 1894 and most saw it as a major loss for the rights of the Church.
(3) Laszlo von Bardossy (1890-1945), Prime Minister 1941-1942
(4) Angelo Rotta (1872-1965), Nuncio 1930-1945
(5) Justinian Seredi (1884-1945), Cardinal Primate 1927-1945
(6) St Stephen I, Duke (997-1000) and first King of Hungary (1000-1038).

Arms of the Regency of Hungary

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