regime has lead to divisions within the Hungarian Lutheran (Evangelical) Church, BosNewsLife has learned.
The latest developments come less than a month after Catholic Priest and former dissident Gyorgy Bulanyi urged Cardinal and Primate, Laszlo Paskai, to confess his apparent connections in the former Communist secret service and the authorities.
A younger generation of Church representatives of other smaller, non-Catholic, denominations is now asking elderly leaders to come forward as well. Imre Szebik, President-Bishop of the Hungarian Lutheran Church, says the Synod will debate a law on the optional screening of church figures at the end of September.
The legislation adopted by Parliament a year ago allows the voluntary screening for church figures whereby a panel of judges examines whether the individual concerned had links with the secret services under communism. Previously politicians, state officials, and media leaders, could already be investigated by the Judges.
Hungary’s commercial TV-2 television station reported last month that 90 percent of Hungarians with an opinion believes the issue of possible links between Communists and Church officials should be addressed.
Lutheran President-Bishop Szebik admits an agreement to put this sensitive topic on the agenda was accepted by his church Synod in June with just a one vote majority. "The proportion was 16 to 15 (because) it is the fact that the Synod has many young members, who wished, accordingly, to promote a cleansing process. This matter has not yet run its course," he says.
Another Bishop, Janos Ittzes of the West Transdanubian Church District, told TV-2 that some Church leaders have fears about what may happen. Ittzes, who was reportedly the first Christian dignitary in Hungary screened, and cleared, of Communist links, has suggested that some Church officials have shown "apprehension over what might perhaps emerge about them or about those who once were in the same camp."
"No small number of them justify their position by means of a theological argument – something which must not be underestimated – that forgiveness of one’s sins is the greatest strength and the greatest power," Szebik adds. "I – and we – must take their position seriously. (But) I shall immediately add that I do not agree with this."
Szebik has claimed to have voted "in favor" of screening church leaders on a voluntarily basis otherwise he "would have come under suspicion that the Bishop opposes this because his hands are dirty…" Church analysts expect however that the Hungarian Lutheran Church’s Synod will not make screening compulsory, in an effort to move the denomination forward into the next millennium.