[Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [HMK Home] THE NATIONALITIES PROBLEM IN TRANSYLVANIA 1867-1940

Chapter III

Romanian Churches in the Hungarian State

The history of ethnic groups demonstrates that, in addition to material factors, it is religion that determines the evolution of a given ethnic group. Many a nationality owes its survival as a nation and even its progress, to its religion and its clergy. Thus it is hardly possible to arrive at an accurate picture of the evolution of any ethnic group without taking a close look at its religious life.

Romanian Churches Before the Austro-Hungarian Compromise

The so-called Romanian churches played a decisive role in the national development of the indigenous Romanians. The term "Romanian church" refers to the Orthodox Christian Church and to the Uniate Church which broke away from it in 1699. Even before the Compromise of 1867 these churches had entirely blended with the national, cultural, and political aspirations of the Romanians. The priests, teachers, and theologians of the Uniate and Orthodox Churches were responsible for awakening the national consciousness of the Romanian bourgeoisie. The movements of 1848 were directed mainly by the leaders of these two churches, who were likewise responsible for setting the foundations of Romanian public education in the period 1849 to 1867. The Hungarian statesmen of the Compromise period were perfectly aware of these contributions of the Romanian churches. When Hungarians finally took political control over their own affairs, it was up to the Hungarian statesmen whether to allow further development of the mostly anti-Hungarian Romanian churches, or to paralyze the Romanian nationalist work of the churches by imposing various restrictions. The following details illustrate this dilemma.

Besides freedom of religion, churches are able to carry out their particular tasks well only if they have an adequate organization and the necessary financial strength, as well as freedom of organization and movement. Hence the objective of the state's religious and ecclesiastic policies, if well-intentioned, is to ensure the above conditions at all



times, while a state with a negative attitude would constantly strive to deprive the targeted churches of the conditions favoring their operation.

Hungary's Romanians were granted religious freedom by the end of the 18th century. The Hungarian laws of 1848 not only confirmed this freedom, but also granted their churches equal treatment and equal financial support. During the autocratic Austrian rule the two Romanian churches were markedly better off than the Hungarian churches, because the regime was ill-disposed towards the latter. The Orthodox Church was in an especially favorable situation as a consequence of the trust Emperor Francis Joseph manifested towards Andrei Saguna, the Romanian Orthodox bishop and later archbishop. The bishop obtained this trust primarily because of the role he had played in 1848 when, during the Hungarian War of Independence, he lined up the Romanians against the Hungarians and, late in 1848, requested the intervention of the Russian troops stationed in the Romanian principalities to suppress the Hungarian fight for freedom.

In August 1865 when, because of Austria's deteriorating international position, the Austro-Hungarian Compromise became inevitable, Francis Joseph summoned Archbishop Saguna and, in the course of a lengthy audience informed him of the coming Compromise. The Emperor's counsel was that the Romanians adjust to the new situation that is, to try to make peace with the Hungarians. After the audience the Archbishop declared to the Romanian official Popp, who came to inquire about the results: "We were thrown as prey to the Hungarians." 1

Thus Hungarian statesmen received considerable leeway from the Emperor as regards policies towards the Romanians in Hungary. In other words, the continued development of the Romanian churches now depended to a large extent on the goodwill and generosity of the Hungarian statesmen. The evolution of the two Romanian churches was first of all a function of organization, and secondly a matter of finances. Both churches were Romanian, even officially speaking, and they wished to preserve this character by means of a separate administration and a solid financial base. Were these aims to encounter obstacles erected by the Hungarian state, such obstacles would certainly have been taken as a manifestation of a negative attitude.

The events indicate that the Hungarian state not only manifested goodwill, but gave decisive assistance and continued support to the progress of the two Romanian churches, their national character not withstanding .


Setting Up an Independent Archdiocese of the Uniate Church

The national character and progress of the two Romanian churches depended primarily on whether it was possible to keep the Romanian Uniate Church separate from the Hungarian Roman Catholic one, and the Romanian Orthodox Church separate from the Serbian Orthodox Church. The interests of the leaders of the Romanian churches and of their Romanian character demanded that they be preserved from the influence of non-Romanian co-religionists. Therefore Romanians always insisted on the complete separation of the Uniate Church from the Romanian Catholic Church in Hungary, and of the Romanian Orthodox Church from the Serbian. If these demands were met, the Romanians would no longer have to fear the absorption of their churches by Hungarian Catholics or Serbian Orthodox.

At the time of the Compromise this issue first came up in connection with the Romanian Orthodox Church, since the Romanian Uniate Church was already separated from the Hungarian Catholic Church in 1853. Indeed, on November 26 of that year Pope Pius IX recognized the Romanian archdiocese of the Uniate Church in Gyulafehervar in his encyclical Ecclesiam Christi. The diocese of the old Uniate Church of Nagyvarad, as well as two new dioceses formed at Lugos and at Szamosujvar were placed under it. The Archbishop of Esztergom, the head of the church in Hungary, issued a statement relinquishing jurisdiction over the Romanian dioceses, thereby recognizing the independence of the Romanian archdiocese.

Thus by the time of the Compromise the Romanian Uniate Church was independent of the Primate of Esztergom, and embodied purely Romanian interests. Since the establishment of the archdiocese of Gyulafehervar and of the two new dioceses took place under Austria's autocratic rule, it was up to the new Hungarian government to recognize their existence. The Hungarian government formed in 1867 took cognizance of this independence and gave legal recognition to the archdiocese and the two new dioceses by Act XXXIX of 1868. What's more, the Minister of Religious Affairs and Education, Baron Jozsef Eotvos, issued liberal instructions guaranteeing the election of the Romanian archbishop of Balazsfalva at all times by the Romanian priesthood, free from any outside interference. Thereby he preserved the Romanian Uniate priesthood's right to elect its leader in democratic fashion. Ion Vancea was elected archbishop in 1868, and Dr. Viktor Mihalyi in 1893. The details of the electoral procedures were specified in directive number 2288/1892 by Minister of Religious Affairs and Education, Albin Csaky, in the spirit of Eotvos. In accordance with


these instructions, three candidates would be selected at the electoral synod; and the King would appoint the Archbishop from among these three. In practice, the King always appointed the candidate who obtained the plurality of the votes. Thus the Hungarian government ensured the election of the Archbishop in a liberal and completely democratic fashion. All possibility of government interference was excluded. The Romanian priests enjoyed rights in the selection of their leader, a practice Hungarian priests could not boast of, since the Hungarian Catholic bishops obtained their sees by appointment, without having to ask the clergy.

The Romanian Orthodox Archbishopric

The evolution of the Romanian Orthodox Church is even more interesting. This church was promoted to an Archbishopric by the ruler Francis Joseph in 1864. This recognition was tantamount to granting independence, that is, to separation from the Serbian Orthodox Church; but since the ruler had taken this step during Austrian rule, once again the constitutional regime which came about as a result of the Compromise had to legislate anew. Thus Act IX of 1868 was adopted, by which the Hungarian parliament recognized the separate nature and self-rule of the Romanian Orthodox Church. What's more, at the motion of the Romanian member of parliament and ministerial councilor, Ion Puscariu, parliament adopted Article 6 of the law, designating the Orthodox Church as a Romanian "national" church. There were objections to this proposal, but the majority voted in favor at the end, since it was backed by Eotvos. During the debates the "parliament of Hungary," wrote Puscariu, "manifested a very favorable disposition towards the Romanian church under the leadership of the free-thinking Minister Baron Eotvos." 2 The law was adopted thanks to the sympathy of the Hungarian parliament, and the independence and self-rule of the Romanian Orthodox Church was legally sanctioned. A legislative congress of the Romanian Orthodox Church was convened on the basis of this law. After lengthy debates this congress approved the famous Organizational Rules - a constitution which regulated the government of the church in detail. The draft of the aforementioned constitution had been worked out by well-known Romanian politicians such as Vincentin Rabes, Cosma Partenie, Alexandru Mocioni [Mocsonyi], and others. By integrating certain Protestant principles and certain ulterior political motives, the laity was given a chance to control the government of the church. According to the constitution adopted by the


congress, the congregation would have a determining role in managing ecclesiastic affairs. The lay delegates were to form two-thirds of all ecclesiastic bodies, including the synods of deacons, of bishops, of the archbishop, and even of the national synod. All vacant posts in the church would be filled through elections. As a subsequent appraisal of this constitution notes:

within the framework of the Organizational Rules, the congregation, like sovereign people, decide freely the external affairs of the church. It freely controls and oversees ecclesiastic and educational matters, as well as its foundations. It elects all officials, from the bell-ringer to the highest dignitary, the Metropolitan. 3

The application of the principles enunciated in the Organizational Rules provided the people, or rather the intelligentsia, with almost unlimited powers within the Romanian Orthodox Church. In the name of the people, and often in opposition to the clergy, they became the deciding factor at elections, and in all internal and external affairs of the church.

Lay control was not in accord with the wishes of Saguna. His own proposal was based on principles of church tradition and in the spirit of church canons. Two among these were especially important. One related to elections in the church, the other to the composition of the supreme body. Saguna was an advocate of indirect elections, because he wanted to avoid demagoguery. In his opinion direct voting entailed abuses, as manifested in political life: clashes result from slanders and vested interests, and these unavoidably degenerate into demagoguery. He wanted to make the Synod of Bishops the supreme body of the church, in accordance with the spirit of church canons. But the lay majority at the congress summoned in 1868 radically altered the original plan of Saguna. There were meaningful modifications. As one leading member of the congress was to observe later, the so-called Organizational Rules ,'was the work of the congress of 1868, rather than that of Saguna, both in form, and in its most essential parts. Thanks to its higher educational level the lay element succeeded in introducing a secular mentality even into the church."4

Saguna and his immediate collaborators knew right well that the great masses of the Romanian people were not mature enough to make a correct application of the liberal constitution advocated by the majority at the congress. They foresaw that the constitution of the church "placed excessive powers into the hands of the people before they


had a chance to obtain the education needed for the correct use of these powers." 5 The majority at the congress, however, was not in the least affected by this consideration. They well knew that it is not really the people who would take decisions within the church, but the intelligentsia, and those who controlled the press and the banks.

These factors explain why Saguna and other representatives of the Orthodox Church felt that the Organizational Rules of 1868 were not orthodox or canonical. They were familiar with the situation of Orthodox Churches in other countries where the faithful were not granted significant rights in face of the bishops or of the secular ruler. This derived naturally from the Ceasaro-Papist nature and spirit of the Orthodox Church. Thus the Orthodox Romanians of Hungary, led by political and ethnic considerations, turned away from some Orthodox traditions and elaborated their church constitution on the basis of democratic self-government in the Protestant spirit.

The big question remained: would the Hungarian government consent to this strongly political regulation favoring the self-government of the Romanian Orthodox Church, in the spirit of Protestantism? The Romanian sources describe the details of the approval of the Organizational Rules as follows:

"Minister Eotvos appointed a board to evaluate this proposed rule. It was composed of two undersecretaries, Gedeon Tanarky and George Ivanovics [a Romanian]. This board, under the personal direction of the Minister, read out and discussed the entire Organizational Rules article by article. Once they had discussed the whole document and noting the essentially liberal concepts it embodied the Minister declared: ,'I will let His Majesty sanction this law so that they may one day say that it happened under a liberal Hungarian minister who did not want to appear less liberal than your congress.," 6

Indeed, so it happened. On May 28, 1869, the Hungarian King sanctioned the Organizational Rules, with minor modifications, at Schonbrunn. Puscariu, who provided the above description of the role of Eotvos, also gave an account of the modifications. According to him, he and Ivanovics felt they should immediately agree to the modifications, since these did not interfere with the rights of the church, and mostly because they were afraid that if sent back to the Romanian congress the whole Organizational Rules might be jeopardized. Eotvos worked on his own, and he rarely accepted advice from his younger ministerial colleagues. He carried out what in his opinion was positive from an idealistic, liberal point of view with touchingly pure motivations by today's standards. After his death the more important ecclesiastic affairs were presented to the ministerial council by Andrassy


who, being a pragmatic politician, was more inclined to resist. When he found out that the bishops of the Romanian Orthodox Church were elected by the diocese synods in accordance with the Organizational Rules submitted by Eotvos and sanctioned by His Majesty, he would not believe it at first. When section chief Mandics placed the actual text in front of him, he exclaimed: "Poor Eotvos, he was always dreaming of American institutions, but even in America this is not the way things are."7

We may imagine the happiness of the Romanian church leaders when they received the news of the approval of the Organizational Rules. They knew better than Eotvos what this sanction meant from the Romanian point of view. A Romanian church historian wrote:

The Orthodox Romanians were convinced, that through this most favorable basic law of their autonomous archdiocese, they have secured power; and a safe preserve for their nationalist aspirations, at least as far as church life was concerned; and this independence gave them the opportunity to extend it to educational, cultural and economic areas too, within limits.

Indeed, the pride and awareness of independence of the Romanian Orthodox was enhanced by the approval of the law. The following year, in 1870, the official paper of the church, the Telegraful Roman, could write: "The Orthodox are subject only to God and to their autonomous archdiocese." 8 Such expressions of complete freedom did correspond to the situation in which the Orthodox Church found itself on Hungarian territory as a consequence of the Organizational Rules. It functioned in a straightforward manner, meeting no obvious obstacles during the entire period of the Dual Monarchy. Understandably when, decades later, the leaders of the church surveyed the fortunate outcome of their progress, they felt unbounded gratitude towards the first Hungarian government for its approval of the broad self-rule. Partenie Cosma, the executive director of Albina, described the policies of the government at that time as follows:

We mention with sincere recognition those statesmen who brought about the first constitutional government, especially Count Gyula Andrassy, the former Prime Minister, and Baron Jozsef Eotvos, the former Minister of Religion and Education. They not only included the autonomy of our church among the laws of the state and secured the approval of our Organizational Rules, but always exhibited goodwill and a sense of fairness


towards our church in all matters. They treated our church on a footing of equality with other churches in our country. That government even created a special section in the Ministry of Religion and Education to deal with Romanian Orthodox Christian matters, along the lines of the one dealing with Roman Catholic issues, where our ecclesiastic and school problems could find expert solutions, in an objective and patriotic spirit. We had an under-secretary in that Ministry, Georghe Ivanovici, a ministerial councilor, Ioan Puscariu, Esquire, and a section chief named Rosiescu. 9

As the years passed it became obvious to the initiated that the self-government worked out in the Rules was threatened not by the state but by the Romanians within the church. Indeed, the Hungarian state did not intervene in the affairs of the church. The leaders of the Orthodox Church tackled all key issues of their ecclesiastic life as they saw fit: the election of the dignitaries, the training of priests, the organization of the dioceses, church discipline, the administration, upkeep, and direction of all church institutions. The fears of Saguna and his immediate collaborators became verified. After Saguna's death, most believers were unable to take advantage of the rights granted them under the Organizational Rules. Intense party strife arose already over the selection of his successor. The consensus candidate of the church was Nicolae Popea, Saguna's most faithful and talented disciple, but the secular intelligentsia, with Babes in the lead, prevented his election. They resorted to slanders, underhanded tactics and distortions published in the press, leading to the triumph of demagoguery within the church.

After Roman Miron was elected archbishop in 1874, there were no more elections to that office for over a quarter of a century. Electoral fraud in filling vacant sees and in the election of priests became rampant. The election of the bishop of Arad in 1875 was a particularly notorious case. As we may read in a study of the Orthodox Church, in this election:

all institutions and practices of the church were trampled underfoot. More particularly, no regard was paid to the canonical preparation of the candidates, their qualifications, their style of living, or to clerical seniority. No notice was taken of canonical requirements and of personal qualities, even though prescribed by the church and required by the spirit of an enlightened age....10 The new bishop of Arad, for the sake of


whose election these abuses had been committed, was Ioan Metianu, the eventual successor to Archbishop Roman Miron. He was of a secular turn of mind, aggressive and fond of intrigue, as became evident during his over 25 years of tenure as bishop. He governed the see as a tyrant and filled the vacant posts with his own people at discretion. The abuses during the elections at Arad occurred in other Episcopal elections as well. The culprits were usually lay persons who committed themselves to one candidate or other, slandering their opponents with false political and social accusations. 11

Most often these lay persons resorted to political slanders as a well-tried weapon against candidates not to their liking. Since the anti Hungarian campaign of the Romanian press was well under way from the beginning of the seventies, all that was needed in order to slander anyone was to claim that the person in question was subservient to the Hungarian government or some Hungarian authority. It was but one more step to the even more serious charge: the individual was in the government's pay. These rumors were spread often by the very persons who themselves may have been suspected of such behavior. Archbishop Roman Miron had his fair share of such accusations during his entire period in office. Although elected by a large majority, the first slander was soon uttered by his competitors: he owed his election to the government. One of those who refuted this charge had been a delegate to the congress. He published the following statement in the official paper of the church upon the death of the archbishop: "As a former delegate to the congress I deny with all my might that the government exerted any kind of influence on the delegates on behalf of the victorious candidate.'' 12 The government had no opportunity to intervene even if it wanted to. Besides, Roman Miron had outstanding qualifications, recognized among others by the historian Iorga.

The campaign of slander directed against Roman Miron had religious and political roots, for the archbishop was dissatisfied with the behavior of the laymen in the church and in politics. On more than one occasion he spoke disapprovingly of the "unlimited freedom" which the Organizational Rules accorded them. He saw lucidly that most laymen did not make good use of the rights granted them. Ten years after the introduction of the Organizational Rules, the Orthodox archbishop still felt this factor was the principal reason for the difficulties of the church. In addition to the financial woes, it was these uninformed members who constituted the main obstacle to the progress of the church. "Our people," stated the Archbishop at the opening of the Synod in 1879,


"especially the peasants, but occasionally even those from the professional classes, cannot use well and correctly rights guaranteed to them in church life through the new organic institutions." Nothing can be accomplished until the faithful learn how to use these rights well. If the financial problems pass, and the faithful learn how to use their rights:

then we may become justly proud of the constitution of our church, for it may provide the most favorable results in every area of church life. Then by uniting us into a national church and fulfilling our beautiful liberal institutions, unlike anything to be found in any other church, our wishes will become completely realized. 13

This observation of the Archbishop of the Orthodox Romanians of Hungary regarding the unparalleled liberality of the church institutions was so conformed to the true state of affairs that it was constantly and proudly repeated by the clerical and secular press of the Romanians of Hungary. Thus, when the seminaries for Orthodox priests were placed under the supervision of the main body of the Ministry of Public Education in Bucharest, the best-known periodical of the Orthodox Romanians in Hungary expressed amazement and disapproval.

The state may not regulate theological instruction, only the Synod is entitled to supervise theological instruction. The directives issued by the main council of public education in Bucharest regarding theological education constitute an attack against the church. We, Romanians of Austria- Hungary, who do not have the good fortune to live under the Romanian and Orthodox government - what would we do if our government allowed itself to interfere in church matters? 14

Indeed, the Hungarian state never interfered with theological instructions. Consequently, the instructors at all higher educational institutions of the Romanian church taught what and how they pleased. The Hungarian state did not even require that Hungarian language be part of the curriculum. During the entire Hungarian administration, the Hungarian language was not a compulsory subject at Romanian seminaries, while the Romanian language and literature were. 15


The Political Role of the "Nation-Church" Congress

The Hungarian state did not interfere in the internal affairs of the self-governing bodies of the Orthodox Church even though some of these bodies had assumed a political character from the start. The Nation- Church Congress set up in accordance with Chapter V of the Organizational Rules was particularly political. This body met once every three years. One of its functions, according to Article 154, was:

to take care that freedom of worship and self-government of the Romanian Orthodox Church are preserved; moreover, to regulate all ecclesiastic, school and foundation affairs, as well as the election of the archbishop and of the officials of the archdiocese.

In accordance with this regulation, approved by the Hungarian state, a body of Orthodox Romanians, consisting of about one hundred members - only one third of them clergymen - met in the fall of every third year. These representatives elected by the people met and functioned in the period of the Dual Monarchy as a political assembly, as the very choice of terms used by the Romanian newspapers indicate. The reports on the meetings of this Congress always assumed a political tone. The members of the assembly were referred to as ,'representatives," their contribution was called "intervention," and these interventions began with the parliamentary formula: "are you aware that...." The matters discussed at the Congress resembled the speeches delivered by Romanian representatives in the Hungarian parliament, the only difference being that they spoke out even more freely at the Nation- Church Congress, since not a single representative of the Hungarian authorities was present. On the other hand, since they did not have much to say about freedom of worship, or about church autonomy, for these were never seriously infringed; they focused on educational and national issues. They besieged the speaker of the Congress with interventions along these lines, as they did the presidents of the Episcopal consistories too, which met more often. In 1883, the sixteenth year of Hungarian rule, Dr. Nicolae Pop intervened at the Episcopal consistory because, he claimed, from July of that year the authorities had been sending out forms to Romanian schools, for statistical purposes, printed only in Hungarian. In a sharp tone Pop demanded: was the president aware of this? The procedure was in open disregard of Act XLIV of 1868 and, moreover, it made it impossible for Romanian schools to assume responsibility for the accuracy of their replies. At the same meeting "representative" Candrea "intervened" to ask whether


the bishop was aware that, in certain communities the Romanian language was not being taught in the community and state schools? And, if he was aware, what action had he taken? Thus challenged, there was not much the president could do: he promised to provide an answer to the query at the next meeting, ,'if he receives the necessary information.'' 16 In the case of the forms printed in Hungarian, the following year, in 1884, the forms received by the Romanian schools were once again printed in three languages, as had been done in the past. Even so, there was cause for grievance: the Romanian daily Tribuna, well-known already at that time, was upset about the style of the Romanian version of the forms. The Hungarian nation cannot consider itself cultured it tolerates such "barbarisms,,' observed the paper. 17 Thus the Romanians took advantage of every opportunity for criticizing and attacking the Hungarian authorities at the meetings of church bodies, as well as in the press. In final analysis, the autonomy of the Orthodox Church served political rather than ecclesiastic ends during the entire period of the Dual Monarchy. The meetings were dominated by the lay majority who more than once outvoted the church leaders, forcing their will on the church itself. Their will was usually the Romanian national interest, and only on the rarest occasions were matters of purely ecclesiastic nature on the agenda. Spiritual issues, always central to the church, could never sufficiently tie down the attention of the church delegates, and these were usually relegated behind national and political issues. The Tribuna of Nagyszeben admitted it:

National feeling takes precedence over religious feeling within us Romanians, and we would find ourselves alienated from a church that did not form a defensive shield for our national development. Our priests should be, above all, disseminators of Romanian culture and peaceful advocates of the national spirit, for otherwise we are not interested in them. 18

Archbishop Miron and some others disapproved of this interpretation; they realized that passionate involvement in politics relegated the true spirit of the church into the background, subordinating it more and more to political considerations. They were particularly dissatisfied with the Nation-Church Congress, for this body hardly produced anything beyond protests against the laws of 1879 and 1883. It worked out a few hurried regulations, but was incapable of any lasting contribution in the areas of religion or culture.


The Political Concepts of Archbishop Miron

The Archbishop of the Orthodox Romanians objected not only to the emphasis on politicking within the church; at the beginning of the eighties he even objected to that Romanian nationalist tendency which aroused distrust between Hungarians and Romanians by demanding autonomy for Transylvania and by struggling against the Dual Monarchy. Like Saguna, he believed in active participation; that is, he disapproved of the policy of passive resistance declared in 1869, and of the boycott of parliamentary elections. He was in agreement with the Romanian lawyer Nicolae Stravoiu, according to whom passive resistance denied the right of existence to the Hungarian government and rejected the constitution and the whole system of the Dual Monarchy. He believed Romanians should struggle for their rights by standing on a constitutional platform. When, in 1881, those attending the Nagyszeben congress of electors, reasserted the policy of passive resistance and the demand for the autonomy of Transylvania, the Archbishop issued a circular to his disciples. He explained that he disagreed with the decision reached at Nagyszeben because passive resistance and the demand for Transylvanian autonomy implied the denial of the constitutionality of the state. Romanian political activity could not be directed against the constitution, for many Romanians, including the officials of the church, had taken an oath of allegiance to it.

Some members of the Romanian intelligentsia and part of those directing the political movement, namely the Babes and Mocioni groups, joined Archbishop Miron, while others remained adamant. A sharp struggle developed between the partisans of conflicting tendencies for the sake of winning over public opinion. Archbishop Miron and his followers, a group of about fifty, held a conference in Budapest on March 14, 1884, and announced the foundation of a "Moderate Romanian Party." The new party recognized the Dual regime and Transylvania's union with Hungary without reservations, but accepted all other items of the program of Nagyszeben. Its weekly, the Viitorul, busied in favor of peaceful Romanian-Hungarian coexistence. The mottos of the paper, activism and respect for the law, fraternity and equality, expressed the essence of their program. The paper claimed that passive resistance and exaggerated anti-constitutional demands were a mistake, for the latter endangered the interests of the homeland. Being a good Romanian had to be reconciled with being a good patriot. The common ground was acceptance of the Constitution. One must fight against all abuses and unlawful acts standing on this secure foundation. Hatred, over


sensitivity, and chauvinism must be avoided in the course of the struggle. The actions of certain individuals must never be ascribed to the entire nation. one must not blame the whole Hungarian nation for the actions of a few.19

Had the archbishop and his group been able to rally the majority of Romanians, a meaningful Romanian-Hungarian rapprochement might indeed have taken place. But, in spite of its auspicious beginnings, the attempts in this direction failed, mainly because Tribuna, the daily of Szeben with its hate-mongering and ruthless tactics directed from the Kingdom of Romania and subventioned by the Liberal Party in Romania, took only two years to discredit the prestige of the Moderate Party and of Archbishop Miron .20 The influence of Viitorul, appealing to reason and moderation, remained far behind that of the Tribuna, with its ability to arouse the passions of the masses; indeed, so often reason remains ineffective against passion. The Tribuna attacked the Viitorul in a series of articles and drowned the members of the Moderate Party in a flood of suspicions and slanders. The main target of the attacks was Archbishop Miron himself. The paper criticized his political concepts, and his methods of running the church. It organized an opposition within the church. Later, it openly egged on the clergy against him. A contributor to the paper asked the academic question, "what should Romanians do if their church leaders use their power and influence to support the Moderate Party?" His answer was: "We must listen with childlike obedience to the advice of our church leaders, but we must always do the opposite of what they say.... This behavior is particularly recommended to the priests who are obliged to obey their superiors."21 Not only priests, but all good Romanians must turn against the leaders and followers of the Moderate Party. They are so dishonorable that they have no honor even towards one another. Those who say evil about them deserve the respect of all Romanians, whereas those who do not accept the program proclaimed at Szeben are confront- ing the true leaders of the nation, and therefore must be castigated. By rejecting certain points of the Szeben program, they have sided with the Hungarians, and this is the cardinal sin, for it amounts to betrayal of the people. Hatred towards them is justified. "We have the right to hate them," continued the paper:

and we have the right to despise and systematically persecute all those among us who have closed ranks with the Hungarians either openly or in secret. This hatred, contempt and systematic persecution are as certain as the light at the break of dawn. 22


The effects of the systematic attack by the Tribuna were not long in being felt. Archbishop Miron and his followers were becoming manifestly isolated. The weekly of the Moderate Party, the Viitorul, ceased publication in 1885. "It perished of the disease of moderation," wrote the victorious Tribuna, which became by far the most widely read paper of the Romanians of Hungary. Other Romanian serials were unable to compete with it. Although the Archbishop did everything to counteract its influence, it even had an effect on the internal life of the church. The Archbishop prohibited the Orthodox clergy from subscrib- ing to it, and solemnly warned the members of the Nation-Church Congress about the dangers of the line represented by the paper:

Do not lose sight of this fateful tendency promoted with great passion of late and continuing today, designed to destroy the prestige of the hierarchy, and weaken discipline and spiritual relations within the church; yet those are the factors to which we owe the fact that our Orthodox Church, the only refuge of our nationality, has survived even under circumstances far more detrimental than the ones prevailing today. 23

Of course, the official paper of the Orthodox Church, the Telegraful Roman, and certain circles of the clergy supported the Archbishop against the campaign of slander. Many experienced the terror unleashed by the Tribuna on their own skin. Others disapproved of the sharply anti-Hungarian articles, or of the project of the anti-Hungarian memorandum to be handed over to the Emperor. Archbishop Miron himself did not support the Memorandum movement. Like other Romanians filling jobs in the Hungarian administration and like the members of the Babes-Mocioni group, he felt the memorandum, intended for Vienna while by-passing the Hungarian government, would be harmful, and the whole movement was a mistake. Still, when those who signed the memorandum were condemned by a tribunal in 1894 he, along with the Uniate bishop of Szamosujvar, Ioan Szabo, presented a petition for pardon to the ruler. Indeed, the King pardoned the condemned in 1895. The signers of the memorandum paid by spending a year and half in jail for denying the constitution of the country and turning directly to the ruler with their complaints, on the grounds that they rejected the Dual Monarchy.

Thus the Memorandum movement was a fiasco. On the basis of the Constitution the ruler could not and did not receive the Romanian delegation which presented its appeal to him not as the constitutional monarch of Hungary but rather as the Emperor of unitary Austria.


This attitude of the ruler justified Archbishop Miron and his followers who had felt from the beginning that the project was misguided, because they had always felt that demands for the autonomy of Transylvania were an error in tactics. According to the official paper of the archdiocese, the point of the Romanian program regarding Transylvanian autonomy and Dualism "were Platonic wishes, sweet but unrealizable dreams which everyone with a healthy judgment must realize cannot be fulfilled under normal circumstances." As a matter of political wisdom, the paper stressed, these items should be suspended for the sake of the achievement of other demands, and later revived at a more appropriate time. All the more so, since the Romanians cannot guarantee autonomy. That issue can only be resolved by the force of circumstances. "We don't know," continued the author of the article with weighty foreboding, "when the conjuncture with such potential may come about. But when it does come, the Romanians will not be satisfied with the autonomy of Transylvania, but will come up with other demands." 24

As the article makes clear, the official church paper under the direction of Archbishop Miron objected only to sounding the demand for autonomy at a given time. It approved of the notion of autonomy and felt that under given circumstances even further demands could be realized. These further, unspecified demands were clearly a reference to the final objective of Romanian irredentism: the division of Hungary and the union of all Romanians.

An editorial expressing such controversial and radical ideas, published without a signature - that is, as an editorial opinion - could not have appeared without the knowledge and consent of the Archbishop. Hence Archbishop Miron must have agreed with the arguments contained in the editorial. Consequently, he too sympathized with the extremist Romanian demands presented at Szeben and with the concealed irredentist wishes, objecting merely to the tactics and bad timing of the struggle. The Tribuna and the extremist tendency of Romanian public opinion were wrong in labeling the Archbishop a traitor.

The Archbishop expressed his political concepts even more clearly in the so-called ,'Millennium Circular" published in 1896 in the official paper of the church. 25 The Hungarian government organized great festivities and a national exhibition at Budapest on the thousandth anniversary of the Hungarian conquest of the land. The churches of the nationalities were invited to participate. The Committee of Nationalities, which was under Romanian leadership, protested against the millennium celebration in a manifesto. In his circular Archbishop


Miron did not openly protest, but he unquestionably made significant concessions to anti-Hungarian Romanian public opinion. The contents of his circular also demonstrated that he identified with the arguments published in the official paper of the church regarding the autonomy of Transylvania.

In this circular the Archbishop first of all contrasts "the always martial and heroic Hungarian race" which immigrated from certain parts of Asia, with those "tame and peace loving" nations from whom they conquered the land. The celebration of the conquest which took place a thousand years ago amounts to the glorification of the Hungarian race, which in turn has been identified with the Hungarian political nation. Not only do the state authorities invite the leaders and faithful of the Orthodox Church to participate in the celebration, but "in a sense they even force us to participate." Yet it is impossible for the faithful of the church, especially its more "educated elements," to participate with heartfelt warmth in this celebration "which almost totally overlooks the interests of our being and of our progress in former times and at present." 26

If the Hungarian race has the right to celebrate, the other nations of the country also have the right to "meditate over the millennial celebration and show even greater concern about fate." Not a single non-Hungarian nation wants to "blend into the ruling Hungarian race, nor even to vanish behind the general cover of the united political nation." On the contrary, each nation wants to preserve "its language, its religion, its customs as manifestations of its own character." Only on these conditions can the citizen remain a faithful son of the fatherland, a faithful citizen of the Hungarian state.

No matter how difficult the situation of the Romanians, "precautions, political maturity, and even good manners" demand that the acrimony in social and public life be suspended for the duration of the celebrations. The people should not harken to those who have usurped the role of leaders of the nation and whose every ambition is directed at "keeping this nation, more solid in its common sense than sharp-witted, in a constant state of excitement by planting hatred, distrust, and hypocrisy in their hearts." For the sake of a united stand the Archbishop orders that the priests organize "their own celebration" at each service. Let them give thanks to God in this celebration, for "in spite of all the sufferings of the past thousand years God has found us worthy of preserving our most valuable treasurers: our church and our nationality." Let us request that God grant us this power in the future as well. Let the clergy pray for the ruler, the army, for the cessation of the quarrels between nations and churches. Our own celebration will


be observed on April 28 and May 10, before the regular church service, beginning at 9 in the morning, in ceremonial attire. We may rightfully refer to this celebration, in a historical and ecclesiastic sense, "as a millenary liturgy" - noted the Archbishop. Then he prescribed the details of the service, at the conclusion of which the people's hymn composed for the ruler [probably the Gott erhalte] must be sung. The circular should be read out by the priests a week before the celebration in the church, and the significance of the holiday explained to the faithful.

In the circular the Archbishop also stressed that more cannot be expected from the proud population or from the church under the present circumstances. If some want to participate in the millennial celebrations elsewhere, on their own account, they may do so as private individuals, without any constraints on their freedom as citizens, but not as representatives of the church. If the state authorities should insist that some organization of the Orthodox Church participate at a given political event as the representative of the church, in ceremonial attire, the church authorities may comply only on a basis of a prior request and special authorization, to which they are then obliged to adjust.

The reading and analysis of the circular make it obvious that Archbishop Miron accepted the state invitation to participate in the celebration only in appearance. Instead, he organized his own interpretation of a millennial holiday of historical-ecclesiastic import, in which the faithful would pray for the survival of the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Romanian nationality. The diplomatic language, at times deliberately vague and ambiguous, enabled him to list the main Romanian complaints, from the occupation of the ancestral home of the Romanians to the process of Hungarianization, the use of "force" and the obstacles to Romanian vital interests and progress, without mentioning, albeit hinting, that the Hungarians were responsible for all this. The circular rejected official participation on the part of the Orthodox Church in the celebration of the millennium, by tying participation to conditions which could not be met, if only because of lack of time. Hungarians and Romanians alike interpreted the circular in this sense. Several Hungarian papers attacked Miron, pointing to the thinly veiled anti-state contents of the circular. The Tribuna also criticized those sections of the circular which referred to the self- appointed leaders who teach the people to hate. Believing the charge was leveled at itself, the Tribuna accused the Archbishop of having assumed the leadership of the church with the assistance of the Hungarian government, caring little about the fate of the church and


the schools. Iorga and other Romanian nationalists looked at the issue in more nuanced terms. According to Iorga, Archbishop Miron "could represent a nation vis-à-vis its natural adversaries in a dignified manner."

After the death of Archbishop Miron the leaders of the Orthodox Church did not alter their political perceptions. They continued to support the political demands of the Romanians in their long-range objectives as well as their day-to-day political struggles. Nor was there an absence of open or veiled attacks against the Hungarian regime, even though the system of state supplemental pay for priests of both Romanian churches was instituted in the first decade of the 20th century. The material conditions of the Romanian clergy improved nationwide, but all this did not decrease the anti-state and anti- Hungarian mood of the church leadership, since the main demand, autonomy for Transylvania, continued to be rejected by the Hungarians. In 1898, the year the state began to supplement the income of the clergy, and article in the official paper of the church contained the following precept: ,'those in power now mock us, beat us, and physically destroy us, what is more, they bury us politically as a nation because it is forbidden to us, at the risk of our lives, to appear as a nation to the outside world." 27

Occasionally one of the Romanian churches took some conciliatory steps towards Hungarian public opinion. This was the case of the Orthodox Romanian bishop of Arad, Ioan Pap, who participated at the unveiling of the statue of Lajos Kossuth at Arad. The Romanian press attacked him for this and qualified him a traitor. A national boycott was declared against him. Aurel Vlad and one other Romanian deputy declined an invitation of the Orthodox Archbishop because they did not want to sit at one table with the Orthodox bishop. In 1909 the Nation- Church Congress held in Nagyszeben took up the issue of the bishop of Arad's participation at the Kossuth ceremony. The adopted resolution reads:

The representatives of Congress, condemn the bishop of Arad for taking part in the unveiling of the statue of Kossuth and appeal to him to abstain in the future from all activity which might bring him into conflict with public feeling regarding the interests of the Romanian race and of the church. 28

If a bishop of the church was subjected to such querying for having participated in an unveiling ceremony, one can imagine the terror to which mere priests were subjected to when it came to everyday political


issues. In agreement with the nationalist press the laymen dominating the Orthodox Church recognized only one correct attitude: to support and serve Romanian political goals with every available means. In 1905, the candidates running on the platform of the activist line demanded unconditional backing from every Romanian priest. In many places in 1905 the priests made their congregation swear in church that they will vote only for the Romanian national party. The venue for a voters' meeting in Szaszvaros was the Orthodox Church. The Romanian priest of the village of Penes, campaigning on behalf of the Romanian candidate Vaida-Voevod, told his congregation that whoever did not vote for Vaida-Voevod deserved fire and the bullet. 29

Of course, there were priests who defied the threats and voted for a pro-government Romanian candidate. In 1909 the government designated the Romanian teacher Iosif Siegescu as candidate in Oravica. Some Romanian priests promised their support. The Romanian press, however, unleashed a veritable campaign of hatred against them. The Romanian paper of Szaszvaros wrote:

Such priests, could not commit a bigger sin vis-à-vis God than the sin they commit against their own people when they bend before the Satans and anti-Christs of Budapest. We will blacklist by name all priests who dare to vote in the elections for the sinful and divisive Siegescu. We will print his name within a black frame, as one who is dead to our people. 30

The editors of the paper kept their word, and for years they published the names of those who voted for other than the candidate of the Romanian National Party under the column "Blacklisted."

Poring through the religious press and the political dailies edited by the clergy 31 the question is bound to arise: Was there any clerical activity at all that can be described as Christian, that was exempt from hatred? Undoubtedly there was, only it was hardly mentioned. Hundreds of churches were built or renovated thanks to the willingness of the faithful to sacrifice or from the contributions of the communities, testifying to good pastoral work. Occasionally these achievements were also given space in the columns of the religious press: for instance, the church-building perseverance of the Orthodox priest of Rakosd [Racastie], as a result of which the new church was consecrated on October 25, 1898, in the presence of twelve clergymen. The priest had collected the funds over a period of years. He was apparently on friendly terms with the Hungarian residents belonging to the Reformed Church, for the Reformed Minister Kallai represented them at the


consecration ceremony. Members of other religions also contributed to the decoration of the church. Among the latter we find the Hungarians, Mrs. Istvan Nagy and her brother Domokos Cserni, who donated gifts for the consecration. 32 Over a period of twenty years, 104 new churches were constructed and 205 were renovated in the area of the Orthodox bishopric of Arad. The treasury of the church also grew considerably. In 1875 the bishopric had a capital of 580,786 forints, increasing to two million by 1895.33 In addition to subsidies from the communities and the state it was most likely the congregation, persuaded by pastoral work, that contributed to the construction of these new churches.

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