With the former Communist regime as questions are raised about the past activities of the Roman Catholic Church, the country’s largest denomination.
In a controversial move, Catholic Priest Gyorgy Bulanyi has urged Hungarian Cardinal and Primate Laszlo Paskai, to confess his alleged links with the Communist authorities and the dreaded secret service.
“Now that we are over the system-change, I say that they – and I shall say his name, Cardinal Paskai – should admit what happened,” Bulanyi told Hungarian commercial television network TV 2.
“I have encouraged Paskai to confess, and he would be glorified by all of Hungarian society,” said Bulanyi, who suffered under Communism as the leader of an underground Catholic Church movement.
“We could cleanse all of Hungarian public life (and) the Hungarian Catholic clergy, if a confession were made to the effect that we danced to the tune of the party-state. But he has not done this…” Bulanyi told TV 2.
Secret service documents leaked to the media suggest that even the Vatican no longer considered Paskai suitable to head the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary. They also suggest that the Vatican wanted to replace the Cardinal, soon after the fall of Communism in 1989.
Paskai has refused to discuss the matter in public, and was quoted by TV 2 as saying that the Vatican had banned him from speaking. Hungarian commentators say this is a curious reason as Pope John Paul II recently called upon all Christians to confess their sins before God and the people.
The controversy comes a year after Parliament amended a law that would enable the screening of church officials on their past links with the Communist regime on a voluntary basis. A special panel of Judges could, already investigate previously politicians, state officials, and media leaders.
About 90 percent of Hungarians support the screening of church leaders, according to a TV2 poll, although some are treating this apparent public sentiment with caution. Bishop Endre Gyulai said that “those who trust in the Lord God should not have a need for such self-verification” from Judges screening them.
“Bishops are appointed and investigated by Rome for a very long time, and Rome is very thoroughly briefed, whether it concerns faith, morals or other matters,” he said. “Therefore, in this sense, by the time they reach this point they will already have been vetted to such an extent in the Catholic Church leadership that I personally do not believe such more (screening) to be suitable or important.”
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But there are few indications that pressure on church leaders to confess will soon disappear in Hungary, where memories of Communism are only slowly fading away among especially the elderly generation